I LOVE being the Minister for Fisheries and Livestock because I am dealing with things that don’t talk, says Professor Nkandu Luo.

And Prof Luo says government will consider lifting the ban on livestock movement when three rounds of vaccination against Foot and Mouth Disease are administrated.

Responding to a question from Mumbwa Member of Parliament Credo Nanjuwa, who wanted to find out if government had any plans to allow vaccines to be accessed by individual famers so that they would be able to vaccinate the animals on their own rather than waiting on government, Prof Luo said government intended to develop an animal policy.

“Let me take advantage of this question to highlight particular things; because animals are such that when something happens to them, they die, we eat them. We don’t understand that these animals require to be protected just like the human life is protected. The difference is that when a human being dies, there is a funeral, you converge and you cry. When an animal dies, we eat it. So we don’t understand that even the animals have funerals and they also cry and they don’t want to be sick and they don’t want to die as well. The difference is that we human beings talk and the animals don’t talk. And that is why I love being the Minister of Fisheries and Livestock because I am dealing with those who don’t talk,” Prof Luo responded.

“If you look at the Ministry of Health, that is actually the sister Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock and one of the things we are doing is to protect these animals. And if you go to the law of the drugs act, it actually says you cannot give out these (vaccines) unless prescribed by a veterinary surgeon. So the way we protect vaccines for human being, is the way we intend to protect the vaccines for animals and currently, my ministry is developing an animal health policy. And the reason why we have been restricting these animals and I am sure all of us remember when there is a cholera outbreak, we also restrict. So because there is FMD outbreak we are also restricting so that we protect the health of the animals.”

And speaking earlier when responding to a question for oral answer asked by Choma Central UPND Member of Parliament Cornelius Mweetwa, who wanted to know when the ban on livestock movement would be lifted, Prof Luo said government planned to review control measures.

“The House may wish to know that the country experienced an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in October 2017 in Mbala. Since then, 31 districts in eight provinces have been affected. These provinces are Northern, Central, Southern, Lusaka, Cooperbelt, Eastern, North-Western and recently Western Province. Currently, active cases are being reported only in 10 districts. These are; Choma, Chinkankata, Chibombo Kabwe, Kapri Mposhi and Ngabwe district in Central Province, Chongwe and Lusaka district in Lusaka Province, Kasempa district in North-western province and Nalolo province in Western Province. The urgent measures, Mr Speaker, that have been put in place to contain the disease is restriction of livestock movement from the affected areas. Mass vaccination; since the outbreak of the disease, government procured I.4 million doses of the vaccine to vaccinate cattle in affected areas,” said Prof Luo.

“A total of 700,000 cattle have been vaccinated twice in the affected areas. Sensitization and awareness of famers and the general public on FMD. And we have continued surveillance to determine the extent of the spread of the disease. Government is aware of the effects of FMD outbreak and control measures that have been put in place on the livestock farmers, however, these control measures are necessary as they limit the further spread and impact of the disease on livestock industry. Further, to mitigate on the impact of the disease and the control measures on the affected districts, government has allowed local slaughters and movements of animals from non-affected areas within the districts. Government has plans to have three rounds of vaccination after which the FMD disease situation and control measures will be reviewed.”