Avian influenza (AI) is a disease of viral etiology that ranges from a mild or even asymptomatic infection to an acute, fatal disease of chicken, turkey, guinea fowl, and other avian species, especially migratory waterfowl.
History of Outbreaks in Ghana
The first HPAI H5N1 outbreak was reported in Ghana, in April 2007 in farm at Kakasunanka, near Michel Camp in the Tema Metropolis. This was followed by further outbreaks at New Dormaa of Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo region and Aflao in the Volta region. The disease reoccurred in the year 2015 and crossed to the year 2016 in six regions of Ghana namely Greater Accra, Central, Eastern, Western, Volta and Ashanti affecting 148,448 birds. In the June 2018, H5N1 outbreaks were reported at Bonkra and Atia in the Ashanti region as well as Nkawkaw in the Eastern region affecting 12,175 birds.
|Infected birds being stamped out and disinfected in a farm|
An outbreak of Avian Influenza type A subtype H5 (Bird Flu) was confirmed by the Accra Veterinary Laboratory on the 8th July, 2021, following reports that came from farms at Nungua, Lashibi, Klagon, Darkuman and Community 25 all in the Greater Accra Region.
Further cases of the disease were also confirmed at Domenase near Potsin and Denu in the Gomoa East and Ketu South respectively.
Rate of spread
As an update the regional breakdown on the spread of the disease in the country. indicated a total of 10 regions out of 16 have so far recorded cases of HPAI. In all 703,966 bird morality has been recorded in the affected regions. Of the said number, 555,227 birds had to be destroyed as part of containment measures by the Ministry. The remaining 143,406 deaths were as a result of HPAI infections. Thus far, the total number of farms affected in the country is 159.
Measures are being taken by government to contain the spread of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) otherwise known as bird flu.
Interventions by Government.
intervention by government is centered on how to empower the Veterinary Service Directorate (VSD) to discharge its mandate effectively. Government considered the intervention an imperative, given the strategic role of the VSD in the development of the Poultry and Livestock industry.
The Ministry’s action plan approved by Cabinet to stem the spread of the disease, and address the institutional weakness of the Veterinary Service Directorate (VSD) include the following activities:
- the recruitment of 1100 Veterinary Professionals for deployment throughout the Country. Financial clearance to that effect has already been secured to cover the recruitment of an initial 550 veterinary professionals. The remaining 550 will be engaged within a period of 2 years to strengthen the institutional human resource capacity of the VSD. This has been lacking well before the government of H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo assumed office in 2017.
- procurement of vehicles motorbikes, chemicals and other logistics has been approved by government to revamp the VSD for enhanced operations manifested by effective surveillance, early detection, rapid response, and control of animal diseases.
- Intensification of farm visits to ensure biosecurity, depopulation and disinfection to eliminate any threats to public health. All these activities will be preceded by the rollout of a comprehensive sensitization programme nationwide by the end of the first week in February. An implementation committee to coordinate the sensitization programme and overseeing the general containment of the HPAI, is set to be inaugurated tomorrow Friday, 27th January, 2021.
It is worth to reiterate that government has approved compensation payment to farmers affected by the HPAI, as a component of the total approved budget of about 44million Ghana Cedis. At this point let me assure the house that the exercise would be carried out transparently to ensure justice for all.
Finally, to forestall the frequent recurrence of outbreaks of the HPAI and other trans-border animal diseases, government has finalized the Animal Health bill for the consideration of Parliament. The passage of the bill will ensure effective regulation of the Livestock and Poultry industry.
The Ministry through the VSD will be empowered to enforce management standards in all animal farms in the country. The introduction of a new legal framework will also vest authority in the VSD to certify all animal farms and also apply sanctions against recalcitrant farmers such as closure of farms to serve as a deterrent to others.
if successfully implemented these measures will go a long way to insulate the Livestock and Poultry industry from disease outbreaks and help build a robust and resilient animal sector.
The zoonotic nature of the disease calls for public alert and vigilance to mitigate the possible impact on the poultry industry and public health in general.
Through effective surveillance and disease control management, the Veterinary Services Directorate is on the alert and very much up to the task.
By: Bagbara Tanko
PR UNIT, MoFA