PROFESSOR Garba Sharubutu, President, Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN), has called for adequate funding of the Veterinary Research Institute (VRI) to enable it to produce potent vaccines for livestock in the country.

Sharubutu who made the call at the annual summit of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) in Abuja, said that the veterinary research institute, located in Jos, was mandated to produce vaccines for livestock.

He added that the rate of vaccines failure in the country was alarming, thereby leading to massive death of livestock. He attributed the situation to importation of vaccines instead of relying on the Jos research institute.

The VCN president said “viruses change their forms due to environmental effect, so if we are using foreign vaccines for our livestock here, the tendency is that there will be vaccines failure. “So, a single research institute should be empowered and be adequately funded to produce potent vaccines.

“The research institute located in Jos is the only institute empowered and mandated to produce vaccines for livestock, but its capacity is limited because it cannot produce all vaccines for disease prevention.

“It is very important for government to adequately fund the institute’s activities to enable it to function accordingly because diseases both in human and animals can only be prevented with proper and potent vaccination.

“This will not only assist farmers but will in the long run assist in enhancing the nation’s economic development by way of improved health of livestock and robust harvest and for the betterment of citizens.”

According to him, the strength of organisms in the countries where those vaccines are

Produced is different, thereby making such vaccines to fail when administered on Nigerian livestock.

He noted that the present challenges facing livestock farmers could only be averted if the institute was adequately funded to carry out its statutory responsibility.

Sharubutu expressed displeasure on the economic hardship such disaster had inflicted on farmers and the nation at large. Dr Godwin Abonyi, the President of NVMA, said that the meeting was aimed at addressing the challenges in livestock industry, herdsmen and farmers crises, among others.

Abonyi, who identified livestock industry as an alternative to the dwindling fortunes from oil, however, noted that there was need for the industry to be effectively and comprehensive harnessed to fill the gap.

According to him, this can only be possible when the relevant professionals and expertise are deployed in strategic places to ensure timely response to issues affecting the sector

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) have urged the Federal Government to compensate farmers whose birds were ravaged by the avian influenza virus, popular called bird flu to curtail its further spread.

The President of the association, Dr Godwin Abonyi, who made the appeal while speaking with Nigerian Tribune in Abuja, said “more robust and vigorous approach to the menace should be adopted.

“The payment of acceptable compensation to affected farmers should commence to encourage prompt reportage of outbreaks. ‘Veterinary extension services should also be strengthened through provision of functional logistics”

Abonyi stressed that such measures would encourage farmers to promptly report fresh cases of the virus. He bemoaned the continuous spread of the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza to some states in the country.

Avian Influenza is an infection that naturally occurs among wild aquatic birds but can infect domestic poultry, other bird and animal species as well as humans.

Describing Avian Influenza a as a zoonotic disease, Abonyi stressed that its outbreak could cripple the nation’s poultry industry, while posing grave danger to public health.

He added that some of its public health dangers included conjunctivitis and other infections like fever, cough, sore throat, muscle ache and severe respiratory diseases.

Abonyi appealed to the government to treat bird flu like other national emergencies devoid of undue bureaucratic bottlenecks.

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