KAMPALA – Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations – FAO has called for policy interventions intended at promoting poultry meat inspection services to minimise public health risks.
FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and selected local governments is supporting the poultry sector to enforce existing policy and legislation, that is; farmers, traders, slaughterers and other actors adopt behaviours and practices that reduce livestock-related public health threats.
This is under the African Sustainable Livestock (ASL2050) programme, funded by USAID intended at identifying emerging public health challenges associated with the growth and transformation of the livestock sector, such as emerging zoonotic diseases and livestock driven antimicrobial resistance; facilitate policy reforms at the local level to ensure that businesses along the livestock value chains adopt biosecurity and other good practices that reduce the risk of livestock-driven public health threats.
Speaking to the press during a breakfast meeting at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday, Dr. Gerald Nizeyimana, the Project’s Focal Point said they had concluded their pilot implementation survey from the districts of Mukono and Wakiso and they will soon disseminate their findings and recommendations to the central government.
“We chose Mukono and Wakiso because they represent the urban and pre-urban environments in Uganda. So, we wanted to see how policy compliancy these two districts can be for us to make appropriate recommendations to the rest of the other districts if were to cope up with the upcoming urbanization.”
The survey in 2 districts revealed that at least 70% of the poultry slaughter facilities (designated and non-designated) reached out, rarely or have never seen a meat inspector visiting their facilities for inspection.
Dr. Nizeyimana said that the policy project which commenced back in 2017 will support both Central and Local governments in improving policy implementation; particularly in reducing the risk associated with livestock.
He said that they are bringing together the private and public actors to work in unison to improve compliancy to public health act; a law that prescribes the behavior of the actors and how they should behave while handling the poultry meat; how it is sorted, where it is sorted from, who has sorted, the medical condition of the person who has sorted, and also to ensure that it has been inspected by the professional because they are the only ones who can guarantee the safety of the product before it goes to the public.
Dr. Nizeyimana said during their pilot study, they realized that the actors scattered all over, but were also unaware of what they are supposed to do.
“What we have done is to create awareness amongst the actors on what they are supposed to do, elaborate a bit more on the national guidelines with specific indicators in what actors are supposed to follow during poultry slaughter, how they are supposed to dress, and the need that public sector has to do to enforce and make sure that the poultry meat is safe before it leaves slaughter points.”
Accordingly, people are at risk of contracting diseases through eating contaminated meat and exposure to residues of drugs if there is no proper anti-mortem inspection. Experts recommend 14 to 21 days before eating any bird or animal that has been treated.
“You may say I’m the one selling but after you will go to a restaurant and you don’t know the chicken you’re eating, it can be your son, sister. So it calls for everybody’s responsibility,” he warned.
Dr. David Kiryabwire, District Veterinary Officer, Mukono said that they are trying to ensure that meat consumed by the public is slaughtered in designated places and at these points but also there is a veterinarian to check and ensure that it is safe for human consumption.
It was revealed that 75% of diseases affecting human beings come from animals.
Dr. Kiryabwire said the biggest set of diseases people get from poultry meat comes from how the chicken are handled during and after slaughter.
“Talk of use of contaminated water, dirty knives, containers and people themselves who are slaughtering.”
“With the growing population, there is increasing consumption of animal and poultry meat and interaction with animals that increases risks to zoonotic diseases,” he added.
He, however, said that much as there are penalties for people who don’t follow the guidelines, their effort is to create awareness first.
“Putting penalties when people don’t understand the risks, instead of complying they go underground.”
Dr. Kiryabwire also decried drug resistance, saying that a number of drugs no longer work on some diseases and also less support from the government to do their work.
According to FAO, the livestock sector is expected to transform in the next three decades. Poultry is projected to grow at about 48% annually and increase to 419 % by the year 2050.
Accordingly, each year, around 20 million people consume around 258 million meals containing poultry meat in Uganda.
However, nearly 120 million of these meals contain meat coming from slaughter facilities with no regular meat inspection.