Dr Hannah Bisew, the Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in charge of livestock on Thursday alerted the nation of evidence of traces of the H5N1 strain of the Bird Flu in the Kantamanto market in Accra
She therefore urged the nation to commit adequate resources and logistics to nip the spread of the disease in the bud before it assumes catastrophic proportions.
“Mr Speaker, it is not that we are asking for more resources just for the sake of them, but it has become necessary to take urgent measures because the strain of the avian influenza occurring in Ghana is the type that can be transmitted from animal to human,” the Deputy Minister told Parliament.
Contributing to a debate for the adoption of the report of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs on the outbreak of avian influenza in Ghana, Dr Bisew, a veterinary doctor by profession and Member of Parliament for Tano South minced no words in making the clarion call for urgent intervention to halt the spread of the H5N1 flu because it could have serious economic and social consequence.
The report followed a directive by the Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho, to the Committee to conduct an enquiry into the outbreak of the disease and to make recommendations to the House for funding of an emergency response to combat the outbreak.
The directive followed the statement made by the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Gabriel Esselfie on July 2, 2015, which drew the attention of the House to the outbreak of the disease and the challenges confronting the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in dealing with the epidemic.
Bird Flu or Avian flu is a serious contagious viral disease in animals with a potential for some strains to infect humans, with all the health implications. The disease, since January 2015, had been reported in many West African countries, with Nigeria recording the first case followed by Burkina Faso, Niger, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
Ghana reported its first case in May 12, 2015 on a farm in the Greater Accra Region, and there have since been recorded cases in the Volta and Ashanti Regions, with the culling of over 33,000 birds at 11 poultry farms and recorded losses of over a million Ghana Cedis.
Dr Bisew advised dealers in poultry not to move with their birds but stay at one place for easy detection of the disease, explaining that, droppings of the birds carried the disease, and that moving them around was likely to spread the influenza virus.
She said no confirmed case of bird to human transmission had been reported, urging poultry handlers to report any strange bird behaviour for prompt action.
According to the Committee’s report, the Chief of Staff at the Presidency had directed that an amount of GHc3.85 million be released by the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for the control of the outbreak.
However, as at July 8, 2015, the said amount was yet to be released by the Finance Ministry.
The House approved an amount of GHc11.035 million, recommended by the Committee, to control, eradicate and prevent the Avian Influenza.