By Apollo Mubiru
Cabinet on Monday February 5, 2024 approved sourcing of ten million dozes of Fouth and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccine to enable scaling up of ring vaccination in the affected districts.
Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Minister, Frank Tumwebaze said in a statement that the decision to control and eradicate the disease was reached in a meeting chaired by President Yoweri Museveni at State Hose Entebbe on Monday.
Cabinet also approved a plan by government to create a revolving fund to enable procurement of sufficient FMD vaccines periodically in the country to facilitate compulsory bi-annual vaccination of the susceptible domestic animal population.
“Cabinet approved a policy that requires farmers to be paying for the vaccines while government pays for the cost of the vaccination administration, transportation and storage,” the minister explained.
According to Tumwebaze, when the revolving fund has been created and adequate vaccine stocks have started coming into the country, vaccination of all susceptible domestic animals will be made compulsory and proof of vaccination will be a pre-condition for any farmer to sell any animal or animal products.
A total of 36 districts have been affected and under quarantine following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease.
These are include; Budaka, Bukedea, Bukomansimbi, Bunyangabu, Butaleja, Fort Portal City, Gomba and lbanda.
Others are; Isingiro, Kabarole, Kasanda, Kayunga, Kazo, Kiboga, Kibuku, Kiruhura, Kumi, Kyankwanzi, Kyegegwa, Kyotera, Luuka, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Mbarara, Mbarara City, Mityrana, Mpigi, Mubende, Nakaseke, Nakasongola, Namisindwa, Ngora, Ntungamo, Rakai, Rwampara and Sembabule
“I appeal to the district veterinary authorities to ensure strict disease surveillance, timely reporting and ensure transparency and accountability in the administration of the government provided vaccines,” the minister told Parliament last week.
The minister told Parliament on Thursday February 1, 2024 that his ministry is seeking support for a supplementary budget to procure another 10 million doses to cover all the affected and high-risk districts.
“We need to support and equip district veterinary officials with disease surveillance tools. In the next one or two months, we expect to receive and dispatch 2.3m doses of the vaccine to these affected and susceptible districts for ring vaccination scale-up,” the minister submitted.
He explained that quarantines are unpopular and an inconvenience to people’s livelihoods but yet again inevitable as temporary measures to control further spread to alarming and uncontrollable epidemic levels.
The minister said that 44 million animals require vaccination against Foot and Mouth Disease.
“This requires an annual vaccine stock of 88 million doses for the bi-annual vaccination requirement at a cost of $2 per dose translating into $176 million. If the stakeholders can be disciplined and comply with the quarantine protocols, the disease will resolve/be contained in a very short time as we also wait for the vaccines,” he said.
According to Dr Abed Bwanika (Kimaanya-Kabonera), a trained veterinarian, two things account for recurrent FMD outbreaks in the country.
“Apart from animal control, the provision and availability of efficacious vaccines. National Research Organisation (NARO) which is an organisation for the Government has invested heavily in innovation and is ready to produce vaccines from this country,” Bwanika
“They need funds. I want to request that when the Minister is coming to Parliament, he should appraise Parliament on how far NARO has reached in ensuring that they produce vaccines in Uganda,” he added.
Fast forward, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa deferred the matter to Thursday next, week.
“Clerk when you are extracting the information for the minister (Frank Tumwebaze) please include that. I would say that for FMD, let’s just look at this on Thursday. I will give you enough time to discuss this issue,” he ruled.