KAMPALA – It’s expected that the World Veterinary Week in Uganda, which officially commence this weekend will rally communities, professionals and the general public in understanding how to improve production, productivity, welfare and health of the animals. As such, the events will indirectly contribute to the well-being of humans, Mr Antonio Querido – the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations – FAO Representative in Uganda has anticipated.
Mr Querido made the remarks on Friday at the Serena Hotel – Kampala while presiding over a high level dialogue on World Veterinary Day. Dr Charles Owach – the Assistant FAO Representative in the country, delivered the message on his boss’ behalf.
The World Veterinary Day is marked every year on the last Saturday of April as the global community celebrates the men and women committed to improving animal health. The event will be marked under theme: “Veterinarian response to the COVID 19 crisis,” – with national celebrations taking place this Saturday in Nakasongola.
The Serena dialogue was organised by FAO and Uganda Veterinary Association – UVA, with support from USAID, under the theme: “The roles of veterinarians in response to animal and public health crises in Uganda.” It attracted representatives from multiple sectors such as animal health, human health, pharmaceuticals, environmental protection, wildlife, sociology and policy makers amongst others – discussing a wide-range of issues to strategise the role of veterinarians in Uganda – playing the role of a springboard to the national World Veterinary Day celebrations in Nakasongola.
“The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations prides in happy, cordial and successful partnership with the Government and people of Uganda over the last 40 years, while promoting better and improved nutrition,” started Dr Owach as he delivered his boss’ message.
He continued: “It is common sense that all living things including plants, animals and humans require food to sustain and propagate life, hence contributing to a stable ecosystem. Successful life requires careful exploitation of natural resources to ensure sustainable supply or availability of resources, including air, water, soils and nutrients.
“According to Worldometre, Uganda has approximately 45 million people, growing at a rate of 3.32% and covering 199,180 sqkm. This human population requires food on a daily basis, but the demand is always higher than supply, hence requiring innovative approaches to ensure sustainable food production and economies.
“This year’s theme for World Veterinary Day celebrations is: “Veterinarian response to COVID 19 crisis.” COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 forced the Republic of Uganda to implement a total lockdown; travel by all means – including air, land and water was halted. Movement restrictions affected
schools, churches, businesses and many other activities.
“Incomes reduced significantly and the national poverty bracket was estimated to embrace additional 2.6 million people. Veterinarians were amongst the essential workers in the country to support the population access the required food supplies. Veterinarians helped out with COVID-19 District and National Task Force response, as appropriate.
“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, FAO in Uganda has maintained significant contact with Animal and One Health Services to ensure that:
– Disease outbreaks are reported and responded on time. Teams supported Rift Valley Fever and Anthrax outbreak investigations and response in Kabale and Rubirizi Districts in 2020
– FAO team supported response to floods in devastated communities in Ntoroko and Bududa Districts
– Refugee livelihoods have been supported in Arua and Isingiro Districts
– Desert Locust Response has been instituted to sustain livelihoods in Karamoja, Eastern and Northern Uganda Districts through provision of Foot-and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccines, animal feeds, micro-mineral supplements and various treatments
– FAO has maintained participation in the National One Health Platform activities, while ensuring that Global Health Security Agenda milestones are met as per International Health Regulations.
“We are currently addressing the following technical areas and commendable gains have been met: Antimicrobial Resistance, Zoonotic Diseases, Biosafety and Biosecurity, National Laboratory Systems, and Workforce development,” emphasized Dr Owach.
Several other scientists – notably the president Dr Dan Kasibule; Makerere University’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Dr. David Kabasa made presentations.
Dr. Anna Rose Ademun – Commissioner – Animal Health in the Ministry of Agriculture – MAAIF; and the country’s Chief Veterinary Officer, joined the discussions via zoom. She cautioned fellow veterinarians against ‘washing their dirty’ linens in the public – advising that ‘some pertinent’ issues needed to be addressed in privacy. She assured this group of scientists that their salary increment demand was being handled following her discussion with President Yoweri Museveni.
But Dr John Opolot – an Assistant Commissioner, and Vet attached to the Ministry of Health said the issue of salary increment or any other grievances shouldn’t be treated as a secret, especially when the concerned parties seize a rare opportunity to discuss it.
The dialogue attracted several scientists in would easily pass as a ‘doctors’ forum – participating physically and through online from different parts of the country.