Prodel Press: Why are you vaccinating small ruminants?
National Specialist in Animal Health: Mass vaccination campaigns against ‘’peste des petits ruminants’’ are an initiative from the international community led by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and FAO.
Actually, the world (including Cameroon) is committed to eradicating this dangerous disease which kills thousands of sheep and goats across the planet, thus impoverishing millions of populations, in particular the underpriviledged (the poor, women, the elderly, the young and all other vulnerable groups).
This commitment has resulted in the development of the Global Strategy for the Control and Eradication of ‘’Peste des Petits Ruminants’’ by 2030, set out by each country in a National Programme for the Control and Eradication of ‘’Peste des Petits Ruminants’’.
THE OPERATION IS FREE AND MANDATORY ACROSS THE NATIONAL TERRITORY. ONLY ANIMALS UNDER THREE (3) MONTHS ARE EXCLUDED FROM VACCINATION. SICK ANIMALS (confirmed by technicians) WILL BE VACCINATED AFTER HEALING.
In addition to mass vaccination campaigns, these Programmes simultaneously build the capacity of national veterinary services in bidorder to significantly improve both animal and veterinary public healths.
The aim is to ensure live-long protection to this animal species which provides this segment of the population with meat and milk at a very affordable cost. Small ruminants are also an important source of savings due to the significant income from the sale of living animals and by-products.
Prodel Press : Can people eat a vaccinated small ruminant?
National Specialist in Animal Health: The vaccine given to a sheep or a goat has no effect on the taste of the meat or milk produced neither on the health of the man who consumes these products.
But generally, vaccination is of no benefit to animals intended for slaughter because it results in a loss of money for the breeder. And at a time of emergence and re-emergence of various human diseases of animal origin, it is advisable not to vaccinate animals immediately for slaughter.
Prodel Press : What are you going for fresh vaccination operations ?
National Specialist in Animal Health: The vaccine used against ‘’peste des petits ruminants’’ protects the animal for at least three years. However, our country, due to its geographical location between Central Africa and West Africa, represents a giant crossroads. Thousands of small ruminants from neighbouring countries transit through Cameroon. Others get sold in our various livestock markets. This great mobility of animals (often unvaccinated and therefore constituting risks for the local herd) can jeopardize the actions of the government. It is for this reason that public authorities decided to conduct three successive mass vaccination campaigns (from 2019 to 2021). Old and new animals will then be vaccinated at each time our crews show up.
Prodel Press : What are the results of the maiden campaign?
National Specialist in Animal Health: In 2019, Cameroon vaccinated five million small ruminants out of the expected six million (animals obove over three months were vaccinated).
Note that, apart from the actions of the Livestock Development Project, PRODEL, which covered 56 divisions of the country, the support of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was added in two divisions of Logone-and-Chari, and Mayo Sava in the Far North region.
Prodel Press : How is the seroprevalence and what do you think of its rate ?
Seroprevalence measures the level of immune protection of the national herd following a vaccination campaign. To reach the disease-free stage, the overall level of immune protection of the small ruminant population in a given territory must reach at least 70%.
Pending the results of laboratory analyzes on the 5000 samples collected nationwide at as part of the post-vaccination seroprevalence surveys, a rate of 72% has already been obtained in the three northern regions. The overall findings of the country will be known by the end of October 2020, latest.
This rate tells that the job has been well done on the field by the services of the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries, MINEPIA) The cumulative efforts of the other two years (2020 and 2021) will allow Cameroon to enter the stage of disease eradication with peace of mind and therefore demonstrate the status of ‘’peste des petits ruminants’’ disease-free country.
Prodel Press : What do breeders say about it?
National Specialist in Animal Health: Over 300,000 breeders took advantage of vaccination in 2019. Their testimonies reassure and encourage the government to move forward. They all recognize that their animals remained safe even after vaccination from MINEPIA staff.
This is an opportunity to sincerely thank all these households that opened their doors to the MINEPIA teams and that brought support in the field. Let us continue to provide support to these teams for increased success in this commendable action for our communities.
Prodel Press : What are the difficulties that you went through during the maiden campaign?
National Specialist in Animal Health: The difficulties encountered in 2019 are mainly the limited access to households that own small ruminants in certain localities in the North-West and South-West regions. The prevailing insecurity deprives families of this important initiative. Should we continue to live with this situation? I am sure stakeholders from all sides are saying NO. THEREFORE, LET US JOIN OUR HANDS TO OVERCOME THIS ILLNESS FOR THE HAPPINESS OF OUR POPULATIONS, ESPECIALLY THOSE FROM RURAL AREAS.
Prodel Press : What is new in the 2020 campaign?
National Specialist in Animal Health: MINEPIA has further increased its field teams to cast a net that is even wider this year and vaccinate more animals. Over 2,000 field agents will criss-cross the country in a bid to provide this support to households that own small ruminants.
Private veterinary practioners will also join forces with MINEPIA to conduct this exercise in the field. This is the main innovation of this campaign.
Prodel Press : How are you going to proceed to cover the national territory?
National Specialist in Animal Health: Vaccination crews will travel through all the villages in Cameroon. They will go to places where animals are grouped together, following a selection approved by beneficiary populations, or will go household by household to vaccinate all sheep and goats above three months.
We thank the administrative and traditional authorities, political and religious leaders for their unwavering support.
We also rely on our everyday allies, the media. They have been working with MINEPIA and PRODEL since the maiden mass vaccination campaign. We know we can still count on them for this other campaign.
Prodel Press : How do you plan to operate in the English-speaking regions?
National Specialist in Animal Health: To this affected population and all authorities, we say that sheep and goats are the instrument of resilience par excellence for poverty-stricken communities even in time of conflict. NGOs, community relays and other “community animal health workers” should be ready to provide support for this operation to record total success this year in both regions.
WE ARE REACHING OUT TO ALL DIRECT OR INDIRECT STAKEHOLDERS TO SUPPORT THE VACCINATOR TEAMS BUSY IN THE FIELD.
Prodel Press : How do you apply the socio-environmental measures during the Campaign ?
National Specialist in Animal Health: Activities will be carried out in compliance with government requirements relating to the management of the Covid-19 pandemic. The staff involved will wear protective gloves and a mask. A reminder of protective measures will be made to breeders by field staff before vaccination begins.
Animals will taken to the vaccination site by at most two people. Immunization certificates will filled in one after the other in order to avoid any regrouping of breeders.
As sole contribution, it is recommended that village heads and / or representatives of herders provide a bucket of water and soap for hand washing at each vaccination site.
Prodel Press : How did you manage the waste from the previous campaign?
National Specialist in Animal Health: ALL EMPTY USED VACCINE BOTTLES WILL BE COLLECTED AND SENT TO PRODEL FOR POSSIBLE RECYCLING AT LANAVET.
ALL OTHER WASTE WILL ALSO BE COLLECTED AND SENT TO VETERINARY CENTRES OR SUB-DIVISIONAL DELEGATIONS FOR ENVIRONMENT-FRIENDLY DESTRUCTION.
Prodel Press : What additional efforts still need to be made for Cameroon to be declared a PPP-free country?
National Specialist in Animal Health: The three years of vaccination campaigns will prevent Cameroon from suffering any case of clinical disease. But full disease eradication procedures require compliance with a well-defined protocol for all countries, including active and passive surveillance activities to demonstrate the disease-free status. Cameroon will follow this protocol established by the international community under the aegis of the OIE and the FAO.
Prodel Press : What are the possible deadlines ?
National Specialist in Animal Health: Global and pan-African strategies for the control and eradication of ‘’peste des petits ruminants’’ foresee disease-free countries by 2030.
Prodel Press : What are the key figures that you expect to get in 2020?
National Specialist in Animal Health: MINEPIA is committed to vaccinating at least 6 million small ruminants this year. This will involve stepping up interventions in areas that were less covered by the maiden campaign (North-West and South-West regions) in 2019 and intensifying actions in the southern regions of the country, where the number of small ruminants, especially goats, is quite high. Northern regions will have to display the highest number of vaccinated sheep and goats as they alone account for over 80% of the national herd.