- In a somewhat surprising move, the Nigerian government asked poultry farmers and veterinary doctors to desist from vaccinating poultry against the avian influenza better known as "bird flu". Nigeria's poultry industry has over 140 million domestic birds and the sector contributes 9 percent to the country's Gross Domestic Product.
In a statement, Nigeria's presidential committee tasked with preventing and managing the avian influenza acknowledged receiving reports that some poultry farmers and veterinary doctors have been vaccinating poultry against the disease, which broke out in the country in February this year.
The committee warned that vaccination of poultry was against the policy of Nigeria's federal government. Believing that such acts were capable of jeopardising the health of poultries and consumers of poultry products, the Nigerian government asked for the vaccination of poultry to stop.
The possibility of a large-scale and nation-wide vaccination of poultry was discussed in Nigeria already in February, only weeks after the disease broke out. Estimated at a cost of US$ 15 million only in vaccines, the idea was rejected. This also was in line with recommendations from the UN's agriculture agency FAO, which noted that tests could not differentiate between vaccinated poultry and infected poultry, causing new risks if the vaccination scheme stopped short at reaching a 100 percent coverage.
The Nigerian government this week thus repeated its established advices to national poultry farmers on the disease. Nigerian Information Minister Frank Nweke issued a statement advising poultry farmers to patronise only qualified and registered veterinary doctors in their respective states or communities.
"It is important for the public to note that avian influenza is a notifiable disease and the Animal Diseases Control Decree of 1988 makes it mandatory that its discovery or suspicion in poultry/birds is reported immediately to government veterinary officials for appropriate action," added the statement signed by Minister Nweke.
For some years now, the deadly avian flu has been threatening countries all around the world. And according to UN health coordinator David Nabarro, the disease is found in more than 30 countries this year. Since the outbreaks of the disease in 2003, more than 200 humans have succumbed to it.
The disease has already taken its toll on China, Vietnam, Nigeria and Cameroon. The UN observed that Africa grapples with major challenges to curb the disease mainly because of its incessant political and economic instability and lack of funding.
The national professional officer of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Nigeria, Chijoke Osakwe, said Nigeria has culled at least 700,000 birds since the outbreak of bird flu in February this year. This had cost over US$ 4 million.
The West African bird flu outbreak, which started in Nigeria due to illegal imports of poultry, earlier this year spread to around half of Nigeria's states, and further into Niger and Burkina Faso. The feared virus did not jump over from poultry to wild birds, and so far no humans have died from bird flu in sub-Saharan Africa. The only African country to record deaths from the disease is Egypt.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.