The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned Nigeria of a possible spread of Avian Influenza to its citizens if not contained as quickly as possible.
The Country Representation of FAO, Dr Louise Setshwaelo, issued the warning on Thursday in Abuja, while donating containment equipment to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“The stakes are now high; the possibility of the disease becoming endemic in Nigeria is real and this is of great concern to us in FAO.
“Not only will this have a profound consequence on the country’s poultry industry, but also to the rest of the West African sub-region.
“So far, no human cases of bird flu has been have been reported in Nigeria minister.
“However, I would like to note that if the disease becomes endemic in Nigeria, there is a possibility of human cases emerging.
“I think this is an important message all of us in the poultry sector should take note of.”
The country rep said FAO together with other development partners would continue to support the federal and state governments in implementing control and containment measures against the disease.
Setshwaelo said that since Jan. 2015, the materials that FAO donated to the ministry coupled with the financial support for laboratory diagnosis, control of outbreaks as well as strengthening surveillance and early detection, amounted to $600,000.
She urged the ministry to ensure effective use of the materials to wipe out the virus within the shortest time possible
While receiving the equipment on behalf of the Federal Government, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Sen. Hainneken Lopobiri, expressed gratitude to FAO for its support.
“Let me on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria express our profound gratitude to FAO and other development partners for this initiative.
“I want to assure you that these items that have been given to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will be put to very judicious use.
“That is the only feedback I know you want to hear.
“Having shown your commitment, I want to assure you that we will do whatever is necessary to use these materials combat the ongoing spread of avian influenza that has very serious effect on the economic and on the health of Nigerians.”
Lopobiri said now that the ministry had been empowered with the equipment, it was ready to respond to any situation within the shortest time possible.
The minister said that the ministry would collaborate with state governments and FCT to ensure that all stakeholders worked closely to “win the battle against the virus”.
He said the government has no confidence in imported frozen poultry, adding that the ministry had always emphasised the need for Nigerians to produce sufficient livestock to feed the populace.
Lopobiri said that the ministry officials were concerned for poultry producers and that by the time the National Budget was passed by the National Assembly, they would be supported.
NAN recalls that Avian Influenza had spread into 23 states and the FCT since its resurgence in January 2015, killing no fewer than 2.3 million birds.
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