Animal Resources Unit Struggling to Contain Contagious Diseases

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In short
The Director of animal resources Juliet Ssentumbwe says that the lack of resources has crippled the ability of the ministry to counter disease outbreaks in animals. She says that the unit is in dire need of funding to undertake tests to ascertain whether Foot and Mouth Disease still poses a serious threat to farmers.

The Animal Resources Department under the Ministry of Agriculture does not have the capacity to test and treat foot and mouth disease and east coast fever due to limited resources.





Foot and Mouth Disease is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease that affects cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and other animals with divided hooves.  Uganda Radio Network has learnt that the Department has for the last two years been searching for five million Shillings, to undertake tests before lifting the quarantine that was imposed in 29 districts that had registered an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease across the country.  





The districts where recent outbreaks were recorded include Abim, Amudat, Amuria, Bukedea, Bukwo, Bulambuli, Gomba and Isingiro. There were also outbreaks in Katakwi, Kumi, Kitgum, Nakapiripirit, Pallisa, Rakai, Sembabule Serere, Sironko, Soroti and Tororo, among other areas.






The Director of animal resources Juliet Ssentumbwe says that the lack of resources has crippled the ability of the ministry to counter disease outbreaks in animals.  She says that the unit is in dire need of funding to undertake tests to ascertain whether Foot and Mouth Disease still poses a serious threat to farmers.  




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State Minister for Animal Industry Joy Kabatsi says that the previous outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease resulted in significant losses to the livestock industry.




Livestock production constitutes an important sub-sector of Uganda's agriculture, contributing about 9 per cent of Gross Domestic Product and 17 per cent of Agricultural Gross Domestic Product. It is a source of livelihood to about 4.5 million people in the country.  





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Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture had planned to upgrade and equip laboratories under the Zonal Agricultural Research Institutes to ensure that sample tests are made effectively. However, the project focal person Joseph Magona says that the project stagnated due to lack of resources.



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In January, the National Agricultural Research Organization indicated that it had come up with locally made vaccines that would help in the treating of the foot and mouth disease. However, the vaccines haven't been approved by the cabinet to be used in the country. Currently, the drugs are procured from the United Arab Emirates.