FISHERIES and Livestock Minister Makozo Chikote says Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) has affected approximately two million livestock since its outbreak in 2018.

And Chikote says government owes K38 million for vaccines which were supplied and utilised over two years ago.

Delivering a ministerial statement, Thursday, Chikote said the new dawn government had drawn a three year FMD control plan worth K775 million.

“The current FMD outbreak was first reported in Chisamba and Chibombo district of Central Province in March 2018. It spread to Southern Province in February 2019. The disease has since spread to all provinces of Zambia with exception of Luapula Province affecting approximately two million cattle which is half of the population of the country. Some of the animals affected include cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, bush pigs and impalas. The disease has affected high cattle producing regions such as Southern, Western, Eastern and Central provinces due to rampant illegal animal movements and inadequate resources to implement appropriate control measures,” Chikote said.

“The UPND government has realised that the disease has to be brought under control without further delay. If not, FMD will perpetuate rural poverty and inequality in rural communities. To this effect, the new dawn government has drawn a three year FMD control plan worth K775 million. The control plan aims to progressively control FMD from the rest of the country and limit it to the national parks where the national parks and various reserves. Government will focus on the prevention of FMD to spill over from these high risk areas.”

Chikote said the treasury released K100 million to commence the implementation of the FMD control plan.

“The control plan includes procurement of 2.2 million dosages of FMD vaccines. Mass vaccinations of 2.2 million cattle in the affected regions. There will be procurement of vaccination cold chain materials. Government will heighten control of movement of animals and animal products to halt the spread of the virus from one area to another. We will ensure that only healthy livestock is allowed to move. To actualize these plans, the Treasury has released K100 million to my Ministry to commence implementation of the plan,” he said.

“This plan will emphasise on blanket vaccination of affected regions as opposed to ring vaccination that was adopted in the previous regime. This is in view of the current widespread nature of disease that would make the ring vaccination ineffective and waste of resources. Based on the current FMD stereotype circulating in the country, my Ministry will have a small quantity of vaccines in the country that will form a vaccine bank that could be used for prepared responses in case there are fliers up of cases in some areas as the control programme is being implemented.”

And Chikote said government owed K38 million for vaccines that were supplied and utilised over two years ago.

“As a country, we owed K38 million for vaccines that were supplied and utilised over two years ago. Realising the important role that FMD vaccine plays in the control of disease, the new dawn government renegotiated a settlement plan for this debt and has since commenced settling it using fair modality with little strain on the national treasury. Despite paying in advance for the initial vaccine requirements, the manufacturers have indicated that they could only supply this vaccine in a phased manner in line with the production capacity and other demands that were available from their countries,” said Chikote.

“This phased delivery which has since commenced will go up to the middle of December 2021. In view of the delivery time and the virus stereotype, vaccines will be conducted in a particular area based on these two factors. I appeal to livestock keepers countrywide to be patient as they will be attended to as the vaccine becomes available for particular regions from the suppliers. My Ministry will take a leading role and will work through its decentralised structures to conduct planned measures and will engage all stakeholders. I appeal to farmers and traders of livestock to ensure that they will avail their animals for vaccination when my officers will be visiting their areas.”