Veterinary experts have warned that Trans-boundary Animal Diseases (TADs) will lead to food insecurity in the region, if no serious action is taken to avert their transmission in neighboring countries.
Experts from East Africa and Horn of Africa are currently attending a three-day meeting in Kigali to discuss the cause of animal diseases as they seek to develop a common approach towards the prevention of transmission of disease across borders.
The Deputy Director General of the Rwanda Animal Resources Development Authority (RARDA), Dr Christine Kanyandekwe, acknowledged the problem, saying it was imperative for regional countries to develop such an approach.
“If these diseases are prevented, it will ensure food security in the region. We have seen animals dying of these diseases in various parts of Africa. We should not therefore sit as our animals die. We need to draw a roadmap to prevent these diseases,” she said.
TADs are epidemic diseases which are highly contagious or transmissible, with the potential for very rapid spread, irrespective of national borders, causing serious socio-economic and possibly public health consequences.
Some of the diseases include African swine fever, avian influenza, foot and mouth disease, rinderpest, rift valley fever, hemorrhagic septicemia, pleuropneumonia among others.
They cause high morbidity and mortality rates among susceptible animal populations and constitute a constant threat to the livelihood of livestock farmers.
The Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) Director General, Prof. Shem Martin Ndabikunze, noted that for the diseases to be effectively detected, there was need to strengthen the diagnosis capacity of laboratories at both national and regional levels.
“One of the keys to monitor trans-boundary diseases is to strengthen the diagnosis capacity of laboratories, sharing of expertise and experience, standardisation and harmonisation of regional approaches,” he said.
He disclosed to The New Times that Rwanda does not have such diseases, adding that the government had equipped the national veterinary laboratory in Rubirizi to detect them.
“We have a referral laboratory that is well equipped and we established border control posts at all borders where our staff cross-check all animals that enter to avoid importing these diseases to our country.”
The Country Representative of Food and Agriculture Organisation, Abdoulaye Balde, pledged to collaborate with all stakeholders to provide assistance to fight trans-boundary diseases in the region.
“FAO will make efforts to collaborate and offer assistance where possible to eliminate these diseases in the region,” he pledged.