27 May 2008

Nigeria: Birdflu Threatens N30bn Livestock Investment - Commission

Abuja — Unless a holistic approach is adopted towards finding a lasting solution to Avian influenza, the over N30 billion investment in the livestock industry in Nigeria is under threat by the deadly disease.

Niger State commissioner for information and communication, Alhaji Ahmed Adamu Kagara, stated this at the inauguration and sensitisation workshop on Avian influenza for members of the State Public Enlightenment Committee and local government communication desk officers in Minna. Kagara, explained that since the outbreak of the disease in 2006, it has spread to about 27 states in the federation.

He noted that "the confirmation of human case in Lagos State added a new dimension to the entire issue and this posed greater challenges to the Nigerian economy and to human health, most especially the high level of ignorance displayed on the risk perceptions and negative attitudes of our people towards diseases like HIV/AIDS and Avian influenza."

According to him, most of the poultry production system in Nigeria are at high risk of being affected because about 2/3 of the total poultry population is still at the backyard or free range. "It is therefore important to put in place effective and proper bio-security measures and above all, create awareness through aggressive public enlightenment campaigns at the grassroots," he stated. The commissioner stated that the workshop would avail the participants the opportunity to be well-equipped with necessary requirements as grassroots mobilisers, so as to maintain the current Avian influenza status of the state.

Kagara said the event was in line with the mandate of the state Avian influenza communications desk office and the federal government's efforts at ensuring uniformity in the control measures nation wide. In his speech, the state director of information services, Alh. Abdullahi Abdu Paiko, said there is the need to strengthen the capacity of information officers who are the managers of information at the grassroots, with the aim of preventing and controlling the viral disease at that level. He noted that there is the need for a high level of political commitment and support for resource allocation by the leadership for Avian prevention and control at all levels.

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