News that a dangerous bird flu is looming across the globe and touching countries and continents where Cameroon imports chicks for local poultry production is utterly disturbing. The avian influenza, as the deadly disease is called, is already reportedly causing a scare in Europe and fears that such could hit Africa and Cameroon are very rife. Obviously so as globalisation easily shares problems. The ravaging Coronavirus pandemic, that broke out in Wuhan, China but quickly spread to the rest of the world, is a perfect illustration.
As Cameroon scans precautionary measures against the impending danger, it goes without saying that the threat is so disturbing and requires robust combat strategies to safe the very important poultry sector from succumbing to the shocks. Cameroon absolutely needs to tackle the problem head-on to safe the farmers, the population that hugely relies on poultry products and by extension the economy that benefits a lot from the spinoffs of poultry production.
The effects of yesteryears' outbreaks are so upsetting that stakeholders shouldn't afford to toil with the looming danger. Actors in the poultry production chain can recall how their travails ended at naught when thousands of their birds died and even those still alive were slaughtered and disposed of for fear of further contamination not only of other birds but humans as well. Even the scare left by the bird flu haunted the population for long with chicken products frightening almost everyone.
Just from observation in markets and across the country, so many citizens in the poultry production chain are increasingly making ends meet from the activity. Experts therefore need to go for every available solution to pre-empt any demoralising occurrence. As the country's livestock experts unify their resources and experiences to ward off any possible outbreak, it would also be beneficial to tap from what has been done elsewhere and possibly adapt to local realities. For, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, specific actions to be taken with regard to controlling marketing, imposing movement restrictions or quarantine measures, culling and vaccinating vary according to local circumstances and from country to country. Given that there is no 'One-fit-all solution, a balance must thus be established among effective, feasible and socially acceptable control measures that safeguard the short and long-term interests of farmers and the health of the population.
However, whatever decision is being envisaged, note absolutely needs to be taken to ensure that in case the disaster hits, infected birds and those in contact with them must be rightfully and safely discarded to halt spread of the disease. Commensurate levels of prevention and containment, call it biosecurity, must immediately be raised and surveillance must be increased and widened to permit earlier detection and reporting of any disease. In-depth sensitisation in all mass media platforms is imperative to ensure that all signs of illness or sudden and unexplained deaths in poultry and wild birds are reported to the authorities so that they can deal with them safely and help stop the virus from spreading.