Avian influenza, also referred to as bird flu, has killed about 3.4 million birds throughout the country and is actively spreading in various poultry around the country, according to the Federal Government on Thursday.
Despite extensive bird flu attacks across the country, it has said that it will pursue a “no vaccination” policy when tackling the disease.
Mahmood Abubakar, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, revealed this at a press conference in Abuja. He emphasized that the “no vaccination” decision was made after careful analysis of scientific and socioeconomic evidence.
He stated that the ministerial committee had access to research on the benefits and drawbacks of vaccination vs no vaccination, and that the decision was based on best worldwide practices as well as World Organisation for Animal Health standards.
“The committee recommended that the country maintain its ‘No Vaccination’ policy for the time being.” The committee highlighted that the country may choose to amend its policy to vaccine against Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza in the future, but suggested that several efforts be carried out before considering HPAI vaccination as a policy for the country.
“As a result, the status quo on HPAI vaccination policy in Nigeria remains, and as such, ‘No vaccination’ against Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza’ in Nigeria for the time being,” Abubakar said.
Columba Vakuru, Director, Veterinary and Pest Control Services at the Agriculture Ministry, highlighted some of the downsides of vaccination, noting that if vaccination is not properly controlled, the country may get confused.
He did, however, note that from 2017 to the present, Nigeria had seen 476 occurrences, with around 3.4 million birds perished as a result of the outbreak.
“Indirectly, we’ve been under pressure to go into vaccination; one of the drawbacks is that if you’re not properly regulated, if you don’t know the exit route and jump into it, you’re jumping into confusion.”
“We’ve seen that some countries in Africa and Asia that went into vaccination during the outbreak are still fighting the disease,” he said.
“If we are able to control the disease, we are demonstrating again that our surveillance system could be vibrant and up to the task of containing the disease and most likely other diseases that might encroach into the country,” Vakuru added.
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