Uganda receives First Batch of FMD Vaccine since latest Outbreak

Uganda, through the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) received the first batch of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Vaccine since the outbreak in October last year. The consignment was subsequently dispatched to 23 out of the 40 affected districts in the country.

During a brief ceremony that was held on Monday evening at the offices of National Animal Disease Diagnostics and Epidemiology Centre (NADDEC) in Entebbe municipality, the vaccines were handed over to chief administrative officers and district veterinary officers from 23 districts among those affected. 900,000 doses of the vaccine were received in the first batch, out of the 9.8 million doses procured by the government.

The vaccines were procured from Boehringer Ingelheim from Germany while others are to be got from Egypt, Kenya and Botswana. The next consignment is expected in Uganda on May 15 whereas the last batch will be delivered on June 15, 2024.

Lt. Col. Bright Rwamirama, the minister of state for animal industry noted that the first districts were selected based on high infection rate, high risk areas and transit areas.

“So for this first phase, we have targeted districts along Tanzania-Uganda border like Kyotera, Rakai, Isingiro and Ntungamo plus districts along transit routes but close to the national parks such as Kiruhura, Lyantonde, Mbarara, Kazo, Lwengo and Sembabule,” the state minister explained.

He pointed out other districts with active FMD cases such as Gomba, Rukungiri, Bukedea, Katakwi, Nakaseke, Mubende, and Kabarole. Others include Ntoroko, Kamwenge, Kiboga, Sheema, Kyankwanzi and Nakasongola.

The Monday consignment was dispatched with 260 refrigerators and freezers to all the districts for purposes of storing the vaccines at the recommended temperatures and to remain effective until they are inoculated into the animals.

Dr. James Kakungulu, the assistant commissioner for animal health said, 40 districts across the country have reported FMD outbreaks since October 2023.

“We had managed to stay for almost a full year without any FMD outbreak because of the vaccinations we did in late 2022. We had taken a risk-based vaccination with 2.5 million doses of FMD vaccine which had kept us safe for some good time but the FMD immunity lasts only for about six months. Therefore, if we had vaccinated again around June last year, we would have avoided this big challenge,” Kakungulu explained.

Maj. Gen. (Rtd) David Kasura Kyomukama, the MAAIF Permanent Secretary said there were no sufficient amounts of vaccines hence the most practical outbreak containment interventions were limited to quarantine restrictions.

Frank Tumweze, the minister for agriculture animal industry and fisheries emphasised that private firms and individuals are not allowed to import FMD vaccine. “All FMD vaccines are imported through MAAIF, and therefore, anyone who claims to be importing or selling the vaccine in this country, must be arrested and charged accordingly,” Tumwebaze warned.

He explained that there are different strains of foot and mouth disease across the world. “If private firms and individuals are allowed to import the vaccine, they will more likely import vaccines that do not suit the strains that we have here, hence exacerbating the problem,” Tumwebaze explained.

He called upon partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations to contribute to Uganda’s revolving fund with an aim of eradicating diseases both in animals and crops.

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