12 December 2002, Rome/Kabul - A
national livestock vaccination campaign targeting more than 5
million farm animals is going on in Afghanistan. The campaign
will be finished by the end of this year, according to the UN
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
FAO is also supporting the fight against rabies in
major Afghan cities to protect people from this fatal disease.
Around 10 million doses of animal vaccines
have been distributed to almost 30 provinces. Cattle, sheep,
goats and chickens are being vaccinated against important
endemic animal diseases such as peste des petits ruminants
(PPR), enterotoxaemia, anthrax, sheep pox, Newcastle disease and
FAO works closely with the
Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry as well as
past, livestock production has played a key role in the Afghan
household economy and has been responsible for up to 40 percent
of national income. However, the past four years of drought have
led to dramatic losses of livestock due to the lack of feed and
For the Kuchi nomads and farmers,
the provision of vaccines and animal drugs is a top priority to
prevent the loss of any more breeding animals from livestock
"Many farmers and nomads
are poor and cannot afford to pay the full price for the
vaccines," said Aggrey Majok, FAO Animal Health
Adviser. "This is the reason why FAO is providing
vaccines at a lower cost. Farmers have to pay about 20 percent
of the full price."
are running the campaign through district-based private clinics,
the Veterinary Field Units (VFUs)," Majok said.
"They are working from Kabul, Mazar-I-Sharif,
Jalalabad, Herat and Kandahar."
Special watch on trade routes
"One of our main objectives is to
avoid the spread of any disease through herds coming from
neighbouring countries such as Pakistan," Majok said.
"Afghan surveillance teams visit
major animal markets along trade routes between Afghanistan and
Pakistan. They aim to detect sick animals early enough in order
to prevent the spread of diseases such as rinderpest and PPR.
Rinderpest was eradicated in Afghanistan in 1997 and through
surveillance we hope to keep it out of the country," he
FAO is also repairing ten
provincial veterinary clinics and refurbishing nine diagnostic
laboratories. The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry
(MAAH) will receive one vehicle, photocopiers, computers,
printers and office furniture.
trainees of the ministry will receive computer training and
technical courses are given to 16 laboratory technicians and 18
disease investigation officers.
Rabies control in main cities
FAO is also taking part in a rabies
control programme in major Afghan cities. Rabies is a fatal
disease in humans and warm-blooded animals. It is endemic in
Afghanistan and has been for many years. Dogs transmit the
disease through biting.
The World Health
Organization (WHO) reports approximately 400 people bitten by
rabies-suspicious animals throughout the country every month.
Several deaths from rabies in humans have been reported in the
Despite ongoing vaccination of
domestic dogs, there is still a large number of stray dogs that
need to be controlled. The campaign aims to vaccinate more than
150 000 dogs.
"We are dealing
with a typical post-emergency phenomenon," Majok said.
"In a conflict situation, people
often leave their dogs behind. In many cases these dogs become
stray dogs. They turn out to become dangerous and people often
get bitten. For public health it is extremely important that we
control this plague. In Kabul we have already finished rabies
vaccination. In Mazar-I-Sharif, Kandahar and Jalalabad we expect
to finish vaccinating by mid-December."
FAO is closely working together with WHO, the Ministry
of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and the Ministry of Public
The projects are funded by Italy,
the Netherlands and the UnitedKingdom.
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