Deo Ndumu the Assistant Commissioner Animal Disease Control at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) says the government has started the process of amending laws and developing new laws to control diseases and drug resistance in animals.
Ndumu told the media about the development as hundreds gathered to mark the end of the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week on Thursday in Nakasongola. The week commenced last Friday, with the aim of training health workers, veterinary officers, policy makers, pharmaceutical companies among others on their role in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.
He says laws such as the Animal Diseases Act, last amended in 2006, the Veterinary Surgeons Act of 1958 will be amended to tighten regulations for the national response to viruses, fungi, bacteria and parasites resisting first line drugs in the country resulting from over use and misuse of these drugs and also the influx of unqualified veterinarians and feeds suppliers
Ndumu says laws related to tracing and diagnosis of animals and animal diseases are also being revised while a new law will be introduced to regulate the production, management and distribution of animal feeds.
Ndumu says the ministry of agriculture will work together with Uganda National Bureau of Standards-UNBS and the veterinary laboratories across the country to ensure quality of the feeds. “The government and private laboratories will be used to check on the quality of the feeds. All feeds must meet standards that we will set in our regulations,” Ndumu says.
The Animal Diseases Act is expected to be amended so as to realign with the World Organization for Animal Health-WOAH guidelines, standards, regulations and recommendations, provide for disease prevention and control in other animals other than livestock such as cattle, camels, cats, dogs as stated in the current law.
The Veterinary Surgeons Act provides a penalty of shillings three thousand for people who are convicted of practicing without registration or licenses as veterinarians, which is a big threat to the profession. Ndumu says harsher penalties are being mooted to strengthen veterinary supervision and certification.
Ndumu says the proposed amendments and bills will be presented to Parliament once they have been approved by the ministry and cabinet.
Some of the farmers from Kakooge, Migyera and Mayirikiti sub counties in Nakasongola district have welcomed the idea of revising the penalties.
Joseph Mulondo, a cattle keeper from Kakooge sub county proposes a fine of shillings three million or six months in jail or both for those who will be convicted of practicing without registration or licenses. ” We are making losses because of unqualified veterinary officers or veterinary officers who prescribe medication that is not even needed because they are money minded,” Mulondo adds.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Residential District Commissioner for Nakasongola, Mr. Jonathan Akwetero is urging the public to be vigilant about fake veterinarians, expired drugs and also to avoid self medication which has been worsened by advice from various people posing as experts on social media platforms such as YouTube.