FAO in Uganda

FAO Uganda donates specialized safety gear to protect animal health personnel

FAO Representative in Uganda Dr Antonio Querido (L) hands over a Microscope to the State Minister for Animal Industry Hon Bright Rwamirama at MAAIF Offices in Entebbe.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Uganda has shown its support for veterinary health workers involved in the management of deadly livestock diseases by donating an assortment of personal protective equipment (PPE) worth USD 50 000 to the Ugandan Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. The PPE assortment, which  includes respirators, examination gloves, coveralls, goggles, laboratory coats and boots covers, will enhance biosafety by protecting health workers  from picking up pathogens of diseases like Rift Valley fever, while in the line of duty and biosecurity when responding to infectious pathogens among households. Pathogens (viruses) can be present in the air, water, objects, soil, pasture, laboratory and farms among other places. Other donated items include a fluorescence microscope with an integrated High Definition (HD) camera, diagnostic kits for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), rabies, Rift Valley fever (RVF) and Brucellosis among the priority zoonotic diseases. The equipment will support country’s preparedness against  priority zoonotic diseases.

FAO’s donation comes in response to a joint FAO and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) warning issued in May 2020, advising East African countries of a likelihood of occurrence of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in the region due to abnormally high seasonal rainfall. The donation will support the provision of animal health services during the COVID -19 pandemic. This will support adherence to the structured and standardized operation procedures (SoPs) during this pandemic. While handing over the items to the Minister for Animal Industry, the FAO Country Representative in Uganda, Antonio Querido, said that “the Personal Protective Equipment is critical in keeping the veterinary workforce safe as they investigate highly pathogenic diseases”.

The Minister for Animal Industry, Hon Bright Rwamirama, appreciated the support saying that “the protective gear will go a long way in assisting the ministry to effectively deal with the zoonotic diseases, transmitted from animals to humans, while protecting the health workforce”. “By focusing on controlling and preventing livestock diseases, we are protecting the population because more than 70 percent of human diseases are from animals. It’s important that we prevent these diseases at source before they cross to humans,” he said.

Rift Valley fever (RVF), which is transmitted by mosquitoes,  is a viral zoonotic disease and can cause severe symptoms in animals and humans. The disease can result in high mortalities, especially in young ruminants and abortion in RVF-infected livestock. RVF outbreaks can disrupt the livestock sector by depleting the future generation of affected herds and therefore it constitutes a major threat  to the food security of vulnerable households. The RFV  outbreak usually results in quarantine in the infected areas, a scenario that disrupts local and international livestock trade. All these consequences lead to large socio-economic losses within the livestock value chain. FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Disease (ECTAD) support

FAO has been supporting strengthening of the diagnostic capacity of veterinary laboratories in Uganda through its Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Disease (ECTAD) with the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This support includes the reinforcement of capacities of laboratory staff from the National Animal Disease Diagnostics and Epidemiology Center (NADDEC) in Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)  and in advanced techniques for sample collection, packaging, transport and storage for priority zoonotic diseases, on biosafety and biosecurity and  on the transport of biological samples of infectious substances in accordance with the guidelines and regulations of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).