10 June 2016 - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations handed over laboratory equipment to six regional veterinary laboratories to strengthen surveillance, diagnosis and reporting of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreaks in the country. The equipment includes fridges, cool boxes for cold chain, computers and accessories.
Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral vesicular disease of cloven-hoofed animals. Although seldom lethal in adult animals, it causes serious production losses and is a major constraint to international trade products. Severe mortality may occur in young stock, particularly lambs and piglets.
Uganda was affected by a series of FMD outbreaks in 2014 and 2015, which led to a yearlong restriction of livestock movement from one place to another and resulted in a request from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries in Uganda for support from FAO to contain the situation. In response, the FAO Crisis Management Centre for Animal Health Sin Rome dispatched a team to Uganda to assess the outbreak. The team recommended for the establishment of a National FMD Control Centre to coordinate all activities on controlling FMD, strengthening the National Animal Disease Diagnostics and Epidemiology Centre (NADDEC), intensifying and strengthening surveillance and instituting the concept of “Smart Vaccination”.
To support the implementation of the recommendations, FAO provided US $500,000 through a Technical cooperation Programme project (TCP/UGA/3503E), to institute measures for emergency outbreak containment and risk based strategy for progressive control pathway of FMD in Uganda. This project facilitated smart vaccination against FMD of 200,000 head of cattle in 17 districts, development of a risk based strategy to help the country transit to stage 2 of the Progressive Control Pathway (PCP) of FMD in 2016, training of 70 veterinarians and Community Animal Health Workers on FMD control procedures, including sample collection, diagnosis, surveillance, reporting and principles of good emergency management (GEMP).
Speaking at the official closure of the project and the handing over of the equipment, the FAO Country Representative, Alhaji Jallow, informed that six regional veterinary laboratories have been established and equipped in Masaka, Mbale, Mbarara, Kabarole, Arua and Lira and they will be focal points for disease surveillance, diagnostics and reporting.
“The project contributed significantly to the containment of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) as a Transboundary Animal disease (TAD) in the country after massive outbreaks, reducing outbreaks from 33 in 2014 to less than 5 by June, 2015,” said Mr. Jallow. He also appealed to the Director for Animal Resources, to make a critical follow up of the adoption of the risk based FMD control strategy at all levels as part of the overall national commitment to the control of FMD in the country.
In addition, the project supported procurement of diagnostic kits for the central laboratory at the National Animal Disease Diagnostics and Epidemiology Centre (NADDEC) and communication equipment for the regional laboratories.
Dr. Nicholas Kauta, Director for Animal Resources in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, on behalf of the Minister, expressed gratitude to FAO for the great support to government and called on the government to recruit laboratory technicians to support districts on animal disease surveillance activities.
He emphasized that veterinary laboratories will significantly enhance proper diagnosis and control of animal diseases, which are central to livestock disease management.