FAO in Uganda

FAO, Government of Uganda and stakeholders commit to tackling tick vector related challenges in Uganda

Dr Sam Okuthe, the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) Team Leader in Uganda, speaking at the Stakeholders'Feedback meeting in Mbarara District.

 Ticks, tick acaricide resistance and tick-borne diseases of livestock in Uganda



31 August 2018, Mbarara - Following a study commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on the prevalence of ticks, tick-borne diseases and tick resistance to acaricides in Uganda, experts have now recommended measures to be put in place immediately to prevent the likely economic losses that result from high prevalence of ticks and tick-borne diseases (TTBDs) in the country. 

The study was conducted following a request from the Government of Uganda to FAO, to assess the extent of the ticks and tick-borne disease challenge in the country that is threatening thousands of herds of cattle.
The call for immediate action was made during a two day stakeholders’ feedback meeting convened in Mbarara District, which is among the cattle corridor districts that have high prevalence of ticks and tick borne diseases, mainly resulting from tick resistance. The workshop was organized to disseminate the findings from a technical assessment report on ticks and tick borne diseases, agree on stakeholder roles in and commitment to the control of TTBDS and review proposed actions for improved control of ticks, tick borne diseases and tick acaricide resistance.
Speaking at the event organised to provide feedback to farmers based on the findings from the study, the Commissioner Animal Health and the Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Anna Rose Ademum Okurut thanked FAO for responding to the call that has provided evidence to the extent and magnitude of the problem.
“With these findings, we are able to know what we are dealing with and since we know the extent of the problem, we will initiate the appropriate actions starting with immediate or short term, to medium and long term,” she said.
The study was conducted in selected districts across the country including Nakaseke, Arua, Apac, Amudat, Kaabong, Mbale and Kiruhura, with cooperation and involvement livestock-based institutions such as: the National Livestock Resources Research Institute (NaLIRRI), the National Drug Authority (NDA), College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity(COVAB), Makerere University, pharmaceutical companies like ERAM Limited, MTK Limited and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).
Dr Sam Okuthe, the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) Team Leader, who represented the FAO Deputy Country Representative in Uganda, while speaking at the meeting said that ticks and tick borne diseases are a very big deterrent to the profitability of the livestock enterprise in Uganda despite its huge potential.

“The problem of ticks and tick-borne diseases especially in sub Saharan Africa and in particular East Africa present one of the biggest challenges to livestock production. Based on the study findings, controlling ticks and tick vectored diseases account for more than 50 % of the farmers’ running costs in Uganda,” he said.
According to Dr Okuthe, projected livestock growth and GDP contribution is likely to be hampered by the problem of ticks and tick-borne diseases, alongside affected livelihoods, reduced trade earnings if the situation is not addressed immediately. The livestock Sub-sector contributes about 5.0% (USD 0.9 billion in 2017) of total national GDP. In addition, livestock contributes to the food and nutritional security and the livelihoods of farm families.

Some of the measures recommended by stakeholders that should be undertaken immediately include; correct use and application of acaricides such as the use of right equipment, acaricide concentration and quality product; nationwide community and farmer sensitization programme on ticks and tick borne disease control with emphasis on integrated pest management and good agricultural practices; testing the efficacy of the acaricide against ticks to identify the most appropriate acaricide formulations for farm use, continuous monitoring to detect the early emergence of field resistance through in-vitro tests; encouraging farmers and the farming communities to enforce strict quarantine measures and livestock movement control for newly purchased or returning animals to avoid introduction and spread of resistant ticks and TBDs; establishment of a clear channel of information sharing/exchange and dissemination on acaricide resistance management strategies; and revitalizing the ticks and tick borne diseases (TTBDs) working group/consortium to coordinate control strategies.
Other recommendations, most of which are medium and long term include: research and development of new and more effective acaricide molecule; anti-tick vaccines and tick susceptibility tests; review and update TTBDs legislation, policies and related strategies; regulating and limiting the wildlife livestock interactions among others.
Experts including technical officers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Makerere University, National Drug authority (NDA), Pharmaceutical and drug companies, National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO), College of Veterinary Medicine Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), Makerere University, Dairy development Authority (DDA), Uganda Meat Producers Cooperative Union (UMPCU), Office of the President, Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), farmers, unanimously agreed that the recommendations from the rapid assessment be taken up immediately to prevent further losses resulting from the ticks and tick borne diseases.