FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yomi Osinbajo, Wednesday

Lassa fever, monkeypox: FG kicks off nationwide vaccination of dogs, approves revised policy on zoonotic diseases

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Federal Government has flagged off the vaccination of dogs against rabies, which could be transmitted to humans from dogs, as part of a broader policy to check the transmission and spread of zoonotic diseases like the lassa fever, ebola, monkeypox, and Marburg infections ravaging the sub-region of West Africa.

Lassa fever

This is also as the Federal Executive Council (FEC), Wednesday, approved the Revised National Animal Health Policy to prevent zoonotic diseases and ensure the health of both animals and human beings.

The approval was given at Wednesday’s FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo following a memo submitted by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mohammad Abubakar.

Abubakar, who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting, said that the purpose of the memo was to revise the previous policy that dealt with only animal health.

“A lot of things have happened that brought to the fore the critical importance of animal health, the new components where we must be conscious of how healthy the animals are whether they are pets; whether livestock that we either use for food or for whatever reasons.

“We realized the frequency of zoonotic diseases; that is, diseases coming from animals to infect humans seem to be on the rise.”

The Minister said the new policy was also aimed at tackling the trans-boundary issues arising from animals moving from one country to another, which he said could result in infections of animals and human beings.

Abubakar said that the new policy would ensure that the health of both animals and humans is adequately taken care of against increasing risks of zoonotic diseases.

“The importance really is if we just focus on humans to be healthy and the animals around us unhealthy and they can infect us, then there is something greatly wrong.

“So, this is the reason for this memo so that we can increase our tracing, our caring for the animals, discovering new diseases, or vaccinating these animals.”

Pointing out that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is embarking on the prevention of diseases in all animals, Abubakar disclosed that the vaccination of dogs against rabies, which could be transmitted to humans from dogs, has been flagged off.

“We just flagged off vaccination of dogs that may have rabies because if they do, they can infect humans.

“This is not just with viruses; even bacteria can be harboured in animals and can be transmitted to humans.”

He explained that the new policy is based on the new concept of “One Health,” which means that “Human health and animal health can be considered as one” because one can transmit disease to the other, especially animals to humans.

Abubakar said that the policy was reviewed to make it more comprehensive.

He said that the review of the policy was done in collaboration with state governments and other stakeholders to ensure a holistic implementation.

While stating that the federal government would support states to implement the revised animal health policy across the country, Mahmood said that over 100 veterinarians have been trained and deployed to states for that purpose.

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