The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, has said that the ministry is entering into partnerships with relevant stakeholders to strategise and enhance disease surveillance and reporting in Nigeria.
Speaking during a roundtable discussion with the representatives of the military, para-military, Nigeria Police Force and National Park Services in charge of animal disease control held in Abuja, the minister noted that disease reporting was a critical component of an effective programme for the prevention, control and eradication of disease nationally, regionally and globally.
Represented by the director, department of veterinary and pest control services, Dr. Maimuna Habib, Abubakar stated that the ministry was responsible for the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes on agricultural development on behalf of the Federal Government which includes matters relating to animal disease prevention and control, animal health and welfare, as well as food safety and veterinary practice.
The minister revealed that there was little or no synergy between the ministry and relevant authorities in the area of animal disease reporting over the years. This, he said, has affected the completeness of data on disease situations significantly and negatively impacted the nation’s international obligation to report disease situations to international organisations promptly.
He pointed out that the benefits of disease reporting include the control of zoonotic diseases to ensure improved public health, promotion of animal welfare, declaration and maintenance of disease-free stats and implementation of a rapid response to mitigate the impact of a disease outbreak on the economy, amongst others.
Earlier, in his opening remarks, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, represented by Dr. Peter Umanah, stated that the ministry through the department of veterinary and pest control services plays ensures that the national veterinary service in the country is in line with international standards and global best practices.
Umakhihe added that the ministry has embraced recent efforts in implementing animal disease prevention and control programmes in the country to build a strong and resilient national veterinary service that would stand the test of time.
He, therefore, urged that deliberate steps be taken to ensure the implementation of a robust animal health policy in the country.
In her remarks, the director, department of veterinary and pest control services, Dr. Maimuna Habib represented by Dr. James Balami, stated that the objective of the meeting was to create a platform for discussion and interaction to provide the necessary synergy in the prevention and control of diseases through effective disease surveillance and reporting.
In his goodwill message, the representative of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Dr. Guy Kouame said as veterinarians, they were not only responsible for animal health but [that of] humans, as well.
In a statement by the ministry’s director of information signed by Mrs. Mabel Obe, Kouame pointed out that there was no better time for collaboration and coordination in animal health and production.