Funds secured to fight Newcastle Disease

Hannah Bissiw, Deputy Minister of Food & Agriculture

Hannah Bissiw, Deputy Minister of Food & Agriculture

THE Veterinary Services Department has received 60,000 United States dollars to produce vaccine against the Newcastle disease. The amount was provided by the West African Agricultural Productivity Programme (WAAPP) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

It is to be used for the production of the Thermotolerant Newcastle Disease (ND1-2) vaccine started in 2000 in Ghana at the Accra Veterinary Services Laboratory for sale to local poultry farmers to boost the poultry industry.

But initiative, which was hailed by some African countries, stalled due to lack of funds because all the revenue accrued from the sale of the vaccine over the years, had been paid into the Consolidated Fund. Therefore, getting money to continue with the production of the vaccine became a bigger challenge to the Veterinary Service.

However, the timely intervention of WAAP, an initiative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) with funding from the World Bank, had revived the production of the thermotolerant Newcastle disease vaccine (ND1-2)   in larger quantities.

Mrs. Azara Ali-Manshie, the National Project Co-ordinator of the WAAPP, said the Programme was a two-phase, 10-year adaptable scheme initially started in Ghana, Mali and Senegal.

Conducting newsmen round the facility, yesterday, Dr. Joseph Adongo Awuni, Deputy Director and Head of the Accra Veterinary Laboratory, said the local poultry constituted over 80 per cent poultry population in Ghana which was mainly kept by the vulnerable groups such as women and children and if no pragmatic measures were taken to protect the birds from the Newcastle attack, poverty alleviation in the rural communities would be a mirage.

He said that the vaccine was in high demand in the West African sub-region especially Niger which purchased 3.8 million vaccine. The Gambia-800,000, Cole d’Ivoire- 7000,000 and Burkina Faso – 200,000, last year as a result of its efficacy and easy application on the birds.

Dr. Awuni said that whatever amount was realised from the sale of the vaccine was paid to the government without ploughing it back to the Veterinary Services Department to sustain production.

According to him Senegal and Cameroon as well as other African nations had acknowledged Ghana as “the Centre of Excellence” and that a group of scientists from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) were in the country two years ago to under study how the vaccine was and is still produced.

Explaining the application of the vaccine, the Deputy Director said it could be put into water for the birds to drink, put it in their eyes at night, or applied on a day-old chick unlike the imported vaccine which was applicable to between one and two-week old chicks and adult birds.

Dr. Awuni said that the vaccine being produced in Accra, had stood the test of time and could be applied on the imported birds as well.

He appealed to the government and other state agencies to emulate WAAPP and support the project which was of essence to the nation, especially, the rural areas.

He said of the less than 100 veterinary doctors in the country, 60 were in active service without sufficient means of transport and commended WAAPP for providing motor bikes to field officers.

From Godfred Blay Gibbah, Kpone

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