26 February 2013

Gambia: Curbing the CBPP


It is good to see stakeholders in health intensify their campaign against the Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), which has been threatening the lives of cattle in the country, with the launching of a massive vaccination campaign in URR.

Experts describe CBPP as an infectious, highly contagious and one of the most important trans-boundary cattle diseases. The disease is considered as the biggest threat to cattle production on which so many people are dependent for their livelihoods, in sub-Saharan Africa. This situation is further aggravated by the fact that the N'Dama Cattle, the predominant breed of cattle in The Gambia, is known to be highly susceptible to CBPP; and cognizant that there exists a vast majority of households in the country that depend on cattle for their daily livelihoods, the campaign against this deadly cattle disease is a necessity.

It should not be forgotten that at the beginning of the outbreak of this disease, the Agriculture Ministry reported that CBPP will continue to spread throughout The Gambia (and beyond) unless control measures are taken. The disease has the potential to cause the deaths of upwards of 200, 000 heads of cattle in The Gambia (based on the 2011 Agricultural census estimating the country's cattle population at 390, 000 heads).

The Ministry further said that the monetary value of these losses is equivalent to nearly two billion Dalasis. Re-establishment of the lost herds to current numbers is only practicable by breeding and could take nearly a decade. The unique Trypanotolerance genetic value of N'Dama cattle may be put at risk by CBPP.

We however wish to reiterate that as the stakeholders in health continue to find solutions to our common plight, organisations and partners should come forward to help the country save its cattle breed.

This is a time for great compassion and generosity and no NGO, Civil Society and the international community can afford to be left out. As a matter of fact, without compassion this world would be a hard and very lonely place to live in. The spirit of compassion gets all of us connected; thus hard and difficult times become much easier, because people understand and care about the welfare of others.

Therefore, by complementing the government to overcome this animal health crisis, you are in effect helping yourself, as sustainable livelihood is the hallmark of development.

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