13 May 2016 - A national consultative meeting on highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Nigeria was held in Jos on 5-7 May. Discussions were centred on the development of an action plan with the following priorities: (1) implementation of a timely compensation mechanism, (2) improved HPAI outbreak management, (3) enforcement of quarantine and movement control, (4) mandatory annual registration of all actors along the poultry value chain, (5) education of farmers and other value chain actors, and (6) strong advocacy at political level to enhance the government’s commitment to control and subsequently eradicate the disease from Nigeria.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Federal and State Veterinary Services, the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), the National Veterinary Research Institute, academia, private veterinarians, the Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association, the World Bank and law enforcement agencies (police and custom services) as well as the Head of EMPRES Animal Health and a specialist on avian influenza from FAO headquarters.
In January 2015, Nigeria had reported its first confirmed case of H5N1 HPAI since the wave of outbreaks that spanned from 2006 to 2008. This time around, the disease spread very fast throughout the country and caused immense economic losses to the poultry industry. As of 3 May 2016, a total of 756 outbreaks (743 poultry farms, 12 live bird markets and I zoological garden) were confirmed in 25 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). 3,353,444 birds were depopulated in addition to the 300,285 birds that died from the disease. So far, only 276 affected poultry farms and farmers have been compensated.
An upsurge in the incidence of the disease was observed in January 2016 which may have been a consequence of increased movement of poultry and poultry products across the country to supply the demand due to festivities in the month of December 2015. In order to better understand the HPAI situation in Nigeria, FAO deployed a mission of experts who assessed the situation together with the Federal Veterinary Services of Nigeria from 1 to 10 March 2016. The mission objective was to collect information on the disease situation and to identify risk factors as well as challenges encountered in the control of the disease. The mission gathered information from National and State Veterinary Services, poultry farmers’ association, fowl sellers, private veterinarians etc, in Bauchi, Plateau, Nasarawa, Ogun and Lagos States as well as in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The mission identified lack of compensation to affected poultry farmers, poor implementation of bio-security measures at both farm and live bird markets (LBM) levels, difficulties in controlling outbreaks in infected LBMs, and lack of movement control as the main risk factors for the persistence and spread of the disease in Nigeria.
To follow up on the mission findings, a consultative meeting of major stake holders in the poultry industry was held in Jos plateau State. The meeting was organised by FAO in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to agree on the way forward and come up with a concrete action plan. During the meeting, the disease situation was reviewed and the socio-economic impacts discussed. Also, different control options were discussed along with challenges faced in their implementation in the Nigerian Context and a work plan was developed and agreed on.
The outcomes of the consultative meeting are due to be presented to the Honorary Minister of Agriculture on 19 May. Political commitment at high level is needed to eventually enable Nigeria to control and eradicate the disease.