Kenya inks deal with USAID, FAO to train vets on transboundary animal diseases
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives has partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to initiate a training program for veterinary officers on new surveillance, detection and management techniques of transboundary animal diseases.
Principal Secretary in the State Department for Livestock, Mr. Harry Kimtai said diseases such as East Coast Fever (ECF), Rift Valley Fever (RVF) and Foot and Mouth threaten livelihoods and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa where livestock production accounts for 25 percent of economic activity.
Speaking in Nakuru at the inaugural training of the first batch of 25 veterinary officers, Mr. Kimtai said those mostly impacted on are pastoral communities who rear herds of cattle and goats for livelihoods.
“They move from one place to another in search of pasture and water, often this increases the transmissibility of these diseases in savannas and forests. Some of the diseases are zoonotic, which means they can jump from animals to humans,” he added.
The Principal Secretary was accompanied by Nakuru County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, Dr. Immaculate Maina, FAO Country Representative Ms. Carla Mucavi and USAID Regional Advisor, Mr. Ricardo Echalar.
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The month-long training is dubbed “Frontline in service applied for the veterinary epidemiology training program.”
Diseases such as Pasteurella (pulpy kidney), Enterotoxaemia (haemorrhagic septicemia) and anthrax have a huge impact on cattle and small ruminant production and were among the most destructive transboundary diseases in the region.
“The spread of transboundary diseases has increased dramatically in recent years. The rapid increase in their spread which is posing new challenges has been attributed to globalization, trade and climate change, as well as reduced resilience in production systems due to decades of agricultural intensification. Equipping veterinary officers with modern skills on surveillance, detection, treatment and management of transboundary diseases is expected to check their spread, improve food security and nutrition and increase household incomes in Kenya,” said P.S. Kimtai.
The USAID Regional Advisor noted climate change that has resulted in prolonged droughts or dry spells in most parts of the country has led to a growing number of livestock keepers to encroaching on protected areas like national parks or game reserves in search of pastures and water for their animals.
“This enhances the interaction between wild animals and cattle which promotes disease transmission. Some of the shared diseases between livestock and wild animals include malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) and rabies,” said Mr. Ricardo Echalar.
Between 2006 and 2007, the RVF, a mosquito-borne disease claimed the lives of 150 people in Kenya and caused losses worth KSh. 3.42 billion in livestock deaths, reduced animal productivity and trade bans on the animals and related products.
During the last major outbreak of RVF in Kenya between November 2006 and March 2007, more than 234 people died and hundreds were hospitalized in the North Eastern part of the country.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), outbreaks of the disease in Africa are associated with periods of above-average rainfall. The highly infectious disease can also be transmitted through close contact with contaminated animals’ blood or organs.