Food Minister Syed Fakhar Imam said on Thursday that the foot and mouth disease (FMD) among animals in the country was a menace that caused approximately $693 million loss to the national economy in a single year.
Chairing a consultative workshop on ‘Pakistan Foot and Mouth Disease Control Program – A National Roadmap’ organised by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), he said that Pakistan was among 113 countries, which were affected to various degrees by the FMD.
The remaining 68 countries were enjoying FMD-free status yet they were under constant threat of an incursion from the endemic because of the international trade, Imam told the workshop, held in collaboration with the national food security ministry.
Imam said that FAO had implemented a number of programmes on the FMD in Pakistan, funded by different donors like Italy, USA and Japan. Under these programmes, he added, surveillance of the FMD was carried out and O, A and Asia-I strains found in different parts of the country.
He said that 20,495 dairy farmers had been trained in FMD prevention, while more than 16 veterinary professionals were trained in the diagnosis, investigation and response to the disease. Around 8-11 million doses of FMD vaccine were imported and used for ring vaccination, he added.
“Peri-urban dairies were also included in the project and it was proved that the FMD occurrence can be prevented by vaccinating animals twice a year,” he said. “We need to prevent the occurrence of diseases, especially the trade limiting diseases like FMD.”
The minister said that a national FMD control programme would be presented to the Planning Commission for approval. “The programme will include, but not limited to, establishment of an FMD-free zone through mass vaccination,” he added.
The programme would also include a risk-based strategic vaccination in FMD hotspots in the rest of the country; developing and implementing an animal identification system at the national level to monitor the movement of animals across the country and the local production of the FMD vaccine.
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