KAMPALA – Veterinary doctors have warned that most of the meat and milk and their byproducts currently being sold on the Ugandan market could be containing highly toxic substances given that farmers continue to sell products from animals undergoing treatment.
Dr Sylvia Anguabua Baluka, the president of the Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA), says the urge of making money has forced farmers to sell milk and meat of animals which are still under medication, which she said is not recommended.
“We do relate with farmers and have talked to them. They tell us the cost of production in terms of feeds is high. If the cow is sick, we tell the farmers to milk but the milk should be disposed of. However, farmers take it for sale because they cannot afford to lose since they feed the cow and buy drugs,” Dr Baluka says.
“The risk is that there is the molecules we are using in animals in veterinary practice, they are not any different from the ones that are used in humans. So because of that, if an animal is treated and you eat it before it recovers, you will be taking in some drug residues into your system and some bacteria in your body will be exposed to sublethal doses and it starts developing resistance,” she adds.
Dr Baluka says that they are worried about the antimicrobial resistance as it exposes humans to drug resistance.
“You will find the antibiotics available cannot respond to the human system. For the case of antibiotics, they have lines but you end up using the third line because you have exhausted the rest of the lines, meaning you have no drugs. If you are going to suffer from infections that are untreatable by the drugs that are available on the market then what else? The only option could be going to some pastors for prayers,” Dr Baluka adds.
According to UVA, currently the country lacks a mechanism to detect the drug residues in animals before they are taken to the market.
Dr George Otebero, the Buyendi district veterinary officer, says 75 per cent of human diseases originate from animals and, therefore, all stakeholders should come together to control the diseases at animal level.
“If we are to help human beings, all diseases must be controlled at animal level but if you leave it to spin from the animal to human beings, then you have caused a catastrophe. When you vaccinate an animal whether it is used as a pet or food, eventually you know the vaccines will not filter onto the human body but if you went to treat when you are going to eat you will have to feed on the drugs unknowingly,” Dr Otebero says.
UVA calls upon the government to come up with a compensation plan for the farmers who have to lose their livestock products as a result of their animals being on medication so as to prevent them from taking the products to market.