Nigerian citizens at risk of Avian Flu, says FAO

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…Spent about N117m so far for support

THE Country Representation of FAO, Dr Louise Setshwaelo, has issued a warning on Thursday in Abuja, while donating containment equipment to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development that there is a possible spread of Avian Influenza to its citizens …Spent about N117m so far for support not contained as quickly as possible.

Setshwaelo reiterated that the stakes are now high; the possibility of the disease becoming endemic in Nigeria is real and this is of great concern to FAO, adding that 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, National Daily did report two weeks ago that human are already been infected in China.

She stressed that if the disease becomes endemic in Nigeria, there is a possibility of human cases emerging, as she calls on the poultry sector take note .”

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 revealed 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.(about N117m) and urged the ministry to ensure effective use of the materials to wipe out the virus within the shortest time possible.

Senator Hainneken Lopobiri, while receiving the equipment on behalf of the Federal Government, the Minister of State for Agriculture, expressed gratitude to FAO for its support and other development partners for this initiative.

Lopobiri who assured the FAO Country Representative, said that the items that have been given to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will be put to very judicious use.

“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”, he said

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, adding 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, stressing 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.