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ISLAMABAD: The government has approved Ministry of National Food Security & Research’s (MoNFS&R) proposal to declare Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) as national emergency and allocated funds of Rs 3.8 billion to deal with it, official sources told Business Recorder.

Sharing the details, sources said, LSD, a vector borne viral disease afflicting cattle and buffalo, emerged in November 2021 primarily in Bahawalpur in Punjab and a couple of districts in Sindh. After confirmation of the disease with the help of Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) at National Reference Veterinary Laboratory and Animal Health Laboratory, Islamabad, the disease was notified to the World Organisation for Animal Health (NOAH) formerly known as OIE for information of regional and international trading partner countries.

The sources said, efforts were made to restrict the LSD within limits but the disease has spread in all the four provinces and is likely to spread further particularly on the eve of Eid-ul-Azha when mass movement of sacrificial animals cannot be restricted. Around 84,067 cases of LSD were reported in the country till June 16, 2022.

According to sources, although the disease associated mortality is less than one percent at the moment however it may reach up to five percent and the economic losses in terms of: (i) loss of milk and meat production; (ii) abortions, (iii) infertility, (iv) loss of draft power, (v) damage to hides of affected cattle besides, (vi) possibility of trade restrictions on export of animal products, (vii) loss of livelihoods of farmers and (vii) distortion in milk and meat value chain are significant. According to a limited survey in districts Rahim Yar Khan and Chakwal, 72-73 percent of milk reduction was reported for a minimum of 60 days’ post disease onset.

Exotic breeds are found more susceptible to LSD than local cattle breeds. Based on the estimates of morbidity and mortality rates in Pakistan, the expected economic loss (in 53.4 million susceptible cattle population) is Rs80.4 billion if disease remains uncontrolled.

Lumpy skin disease: Punjab Livestock dept seeks World Bank’s assistance

The Ministry maintains that in order to prevent further spread of the disease, to mitigate the negative impact on the milk and meat value chain, to sustain safe international trade and to reduce ongoing colossal economic losses, mass vaccination complemented by regulated animal movement and mass awareness are imperative. This is not possible in the shortest possible time without declaring “National Disease Emergency for LSD” in the country.

The Ministry has drafted strategy/Action Plan in case of declaration of National Disease Emergency in the country.

The sources said budget estimates to implement this strategy are Rs3.8 billion approximately. All procurements such as vaccine, laboratory equipment and diagnostic reagents etc shall be made by NDMA, while technical assistance shall be provided by MoNFS&R in collaboration with Provincial Livestock Departments. Similarly, Pak Army support may be required to cover the bordering areas and difficult terrain. Thus, ECC may take following decisions: (i) declaration of National Disease Emergency; (ii) Constitution of LSD Control Committee headed by Minister for NFS&R duly representative by Chairman NDMA, Provincial Chief Secretaries, Secretaries Livestock and Local Government Departments. This committee shall meet on weekly basis, to monitor the progress on implementation of action plan and daily progress shall be collected from the Provinces by Animal Husbandry Commissioner; and (iii) Provision of supplementary grants of Rs3798.6 million to implement strategy and action plan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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