UGANDA— Ugandan farmers are concerned about the emergence of foot and mouth disease after the Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries (MAAIF), wrote to the Inspector General of Police requesting quarantine in 32 districts along the livestock route.

This disclosure was made during the plenary session of Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa on Thursday, January 25, 2024.

During his speech in parliament, the deputy speaker demanded that the MAAIF, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, submit a report on interventions to control the spread of foot and mouth disease. 

“People in the livestock corridor want to know when the quarantine will end and when the farmers will be vaccinated. Many places are affected, and the farmers whose livelihoods rely on these animals must be compensated,” Tayebwa added.

He went on to stress that it is important to understand how the disease spread to various regions and what steps are being implemented, as well as long-term plans to control and mitigate the consequences.

He went on to say that the statement he is asking is designed to keep all leaders up to date on government activities, because as politicians, they will be questioned by their constituents.

He was keen to point out that the parliament was not intervening, but they did want to be informed about what was going on.

In his contribution, Hon. Allan Mayanja (NUP, Nakaseke Central County) stated that, according to the district’s Chief Administrative Officer, 225 cattle had been infected by foot and mouth illness, with several deaths reported in the last two weeks.

He stated that, despite the ministry’s quarantine, there are no vaccines available. He went on to challenge the decision to impose quarantine without vaccination, pointing out that farmers have lost animals and that the government has done little to contain the crisis.

Hon. Abed Bwanika (NUP, Kimaanya-Kabonera Division) suggested that the ministry’s statement include information on the National Research Organisation’s (NARO) efforts in creating such vaccines.

NARO has spent considerably in innovation and is ready to supply vaccines, but their efforts are being hampered by a lack of funding. He went on to say that the minister should appraise the government on how far NARO has come in developing vaccinations.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a severe and highly contagious viral infection that affects cows, pigs, sheep, goats, deer, and other animals with divided hooves. It does not affect horses, dogs, or cats. 

FMD does not pose a public health or food safety risk, and it is not related to hand, foot, and mouth disease, a prevalent children sickness caused by another virus.

FMD is recognized by the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH, formerly the OIE) as a transmissible disease with potentially significant consequences and rapid transmission.

FMD is endemic in most African countries and the Middle East, in several parts of Asia and in very limited areas of South America.

FMD has severe socio-economic consequences as livestock productivity is seriously affected.

This viral illness costs Africa around US$2.3 billion per year in economic losses, and both regional and worldwide traffic of animals and animal products is affected and disrupted, according to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The most recent epidemic of foot and mouth disease was reported in November 2023.

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