Government has requested the government of Botswana to consider reducing the cost of vaccines for foot and mouth disease (FMD)
Fisheries and livestock Minister Nkandu Luo says the reduction in the price of the vaccine will greatly assist contain the continuous outbreaks of FMD the country is currently grappling with.
Professor Luo says the discount will benefit Zambia control the current outbreaks of the foot and mouth which has spread to areas that have never had the disease.
‘This disease is a big problem to the livestock sector, while we are managing to contain it in some areas, we continue receiving reports of the disease breaking out in other areas that have never experienced the disease’ Luo lamented.
She says while there are several serotypes of foot and mouth, the current strain has proved difficult and expensive to control.
‘Past vaccinations are not helping us contain the disease, we need to bring in a vaccine that address this ‘serotype O’ strain that is causing nightmares to the livestock sector and the ministry of fisheries and livestock’ Luo said.
Speaking when Botswana Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security Fidelis Molao paid a courtesy call at her office, Professor LUO says the two countries need to enhance collaboration in livestock disease control measures.
’Noting that Zambia is currently grappling with an outbreak of the O serotype foot and mouth disease virus which is alien to the country and Southern Africa region, it is important for the two countries to enhance collaboration in control measures that will ameliorate the situation’ Luo said.
Professor Luo says Zambia appreciates the continued support from Botswana in the supply of vaccines whenever called upon.
‘We note that the cost of production of the FMD vaccine is high, however Zambia is requesting for considerations of a concession to enable us reduce our disease burden, she appealed.
Zambia has estimated to procure about 2.4 million doses of foot and mouth vaccine in total from Botswana at 3 dollars per dose to contain FMD ever since it broke out early this year affecting Southern, Central, Lusaka, Copperbelt and Eastern Province.
The first case of FMD was reported in February in Monze district suspected to have come from Chisamba district in Central Province where the first case of serotype O broke out last year.
FMD then spread to Mazabuka, Choma, Pemba, and Namwala districts in Southern Province. The disease later spread to Mumbwa, Kabwe and Kapiri Mposhi districts in Central province.
Due to illegal movement of livestock, Lusaka and Chilanga district in Lusaka province, Chingola and Kitwe on the Copperbelt were also affected.
In Eastern Province, Vubwi, Lundazi and Chipata districts also reported the outbreak forcing government to impose a ban on movement of livestock within and outside the affected areas across the country.
Professor Luo says Botswana Vaccine Institute has been providing diagnostic services for Zambia as an OIE reference laboratory and vaccine matching and is hopeful this will continue in the current situation once authority to procure is granted.
Professor Luo took the opportunity of the presence of her counterpart to invite Botswana to consider utilizing the animal disease infectious facility at the Central Veterinary Research Institute at Balmoral in Chilanga for both vaccine clinical trials and animal disease research.
‘Our two countries continue to enhance laboratory diagnostic capacities with a view to eradicate Contagious Bovine Pleuropnuemonia (CBPP) in the sub region. We also need to look at eradication of foot and mouth disease and any transboundary disease that are a threat.’ She observed.
Professor Luo says although the two countries have not experienced infection with Peste de pets ruminants (PPR) in goats and sheep from East Africa, surveillance and biosecurity measures for this disease should be enhanced.
‘Botswana and Zambia should work together to ensure continued freedom from PPR disease’ Luo said
The collaboration between Zambia and Botswana has successfully resulted in the eradication of tsetse flies in the shared Kwando-Zambezi belt.
‘The two countries however need to continue collaborating in surveillance activities for tsetse flies, and human and animal trypanosomiasis (HAT) in the area’ Luo said.
Meanwhile Botswana Minister of Agriculture Development and Food Security Fidelis Molao says his country stands ready to reduce the price of foot and mouth vaccine for Zambia.
Mr. MOLAO says Zambia has been a reliable partner and is hopeful that if a long term procurement plan is put in place, Botswana will offer the vaccines at an affordable price.
‘Zambia remains a very good customer for us in terms of provision of vaccines, we are ready to offer the vaccines at a lower price depending on how many does you require.
Mr. MOLAO says Botswana and Zambia have continued to enjoy bilateral cooperation based on collaboration and not competition.
‘We are collaborators and not competitors, if we were competitors, this would have jeopardized our relationships’ Molao said.
Mr. Molao says Botswana is ready to give collaborative support in areas of disease diagnostics, Surveillance and supply of vaccines to not only benefit the two countries but the region as a whole.
‘If Zambia is free of the disease, our country will also be free from the threat of trans boundary disease as the two countries share borders. Molao said.
He said his country stands ready to assist Zambia develop its livestock sector in every way possible.
‘Botswana’s beef industry has advanced with exports quotas to the European Union. We stand ready to send experts to help you control diseases and develop your beef industry’ Molao said.
Mr. Molao says while they have developed a vibrant beef industry, his country is looking to Zambia to help them develop the fisheries sub sector.
He noted that Zambia is the number one in the Southern region in aquaculture production and hopes to learn how they can improve their countries fisheries sector which is in its infancy.
Mr. Molao however says Zambia remains a strategic partner for grain, stock feed and other products.
‘We depend on Zambia for the supply of stock feed for our livestock and as well as grain for our people’ Molao said
He said Botswana is one of the hardest hit in terms of climate change and most of the land is not as productive for grain and other crops as Zambia.
Mr. Molao called upon the two governments to formalise and strengthen the trade of agriculture products between the two countries.
‘Trade in grain and other agricultural product has not been at the right levels, we need to put up proper mechanisms to import maize and other products from Zambia, Molao said.