10 July 2018

Rwanda: Govt Mounts Crackdown on Counterfeit Livestock Drugs

Drugs worth about Rwf24m have been impounded, four animal drug stores closed and three people arrested in an operation that was intended to tackle sale and use of counterfeit veterinary products in the country.

This was confirmed on Monday by Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB).

The operation was carried out on 52 pharmacies from July 6 in nine districts of Nyarugenge, Nyanza, Ruhango and Huye, Nyagatare, Gatsibo and Kayonza, Rusizi and Nyamasheke.

Speaking during a press conference on Monday in Kigali, the Director General for Crime Intelligence at RIB, Peter Karake said that 18 of the pharmacies were found to be selling drugs that are illegal, with some being counterfeit, others not allowed in the country, while others were found to have expired.

He pointed out that three of the closed stores were operating from Kigali, while one was in Huye District, explaining that their closure resulted from the amount of illegal drugs they had in their store, and their attempts to hide some of them.

About the three vet store operators who were arrested, he said that it is because their pharmacies had many products that had expired or were found to be counterfeit, with hazardous impact to livestock.

The operation was conducted by RIB in partnership with Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), and the Rwanda Council of Veterinary Doctors (RCVD).

"What was intended was to sensitise [people about such counterfeit drugs], and to impose a complete ban on such drugs from Rwandan markets," Karake said adding that life and security for people and livestock is a responsibility for everyone.

Dr Jean Claude Rukundo, Director of Veterinary Inspection Unit at RAB said the operation was informed by the unusual deaths of 26 cows in the Eastern Province's Gatsibo District, which died of a tick control drug that farmers had mixed with a pesticide which produced a deadly concoction.

Talking about effects of illegal drugs, Rukundo said that when a drug has passed its expiry date, or is wrongly used, it becomes even poisonous.

The move comes as Rwanda's livestock is facing two threats, namely Rift Valley Fever, and tick-borne disease, both of which are deadly, and need effective remedy to be contained and prevent loss of cattle or other ruminants.

RIB and RAB appealed to the public to be vigilant and always consult with veterinarians for guidance while buying veterinary products to avoid use of counterfeit products which are harmful to the cattle and people's lives.

Talking about punishment, Karake said that any person selling counterfeit drugs is punishable by law from six months to two years depending on the intensity of the crime, or fine ranging from Rwf1 million to Rwf5 million.

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