20 Feb 2017 19:10pm
SWAKOPMUND, 20 FEB (NAMPA) - The 22nd conference of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)s Regional Commission for Africa commenced in Swakopmund on Monday.
The OIE is the inter-governmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide.
It is recognised as a reference organisation by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and in 2016 had 180 member countries, including Namibia.
Fifty-four representatives from member countries such as Zimbabwe, Cameroon and Uganda will during the five-day conference discuss ways to improve animal health.
OIE Director General Monique Eloit said there is a need to develop specific strategies to fight diseases in Africa at regional level.
Eloit said the focus is on fighting and eliminating diseases such as rabies and ovine rinderpest.
Our gathering here allows countries which are struggling to control animal diseases to learn from those doing better. I believe if one country can do it, we all can, she said.
Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa noted that animal health should be given the same attention as human health.
He said humans depend on animals for food, thus they should be kept healthy to avoid disease being spread from animals to people.
Mutorwa said governments should be willing to avail resources to fight animal diseases.
He said education is equally important in this area as many people do not know much about animal health.
If we educate our people, we will be able to control the spread of diseases, the minister said.
Chief veterinary officer in Namibia, Adrianatus Maseke said if animal disease is minimised, food availability will increase.
He said in the case of Namibia and many other African countries, livestock farmers produce but cannot sell as they do not meet certain trade requirements.
This is mostly because the health status of their animals are not up to standard.
To avoid hunger and poverty we need to develop strategies which eliminate diseases and implement policies which will allow farmers to sell their livestock, Maseke said.