Okwe Obi, Abuja
Veterinary doctors under the umbrella of the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) have appealed to the Federal Government to provide stimulus packages and a social safety net for livestock value chain stakeholders to protect them from contracting COVID-19 as they strive to safeguard the industry.
NVMA’s National President Professor Bello Agaie, who made this known in a statement, also called on the government to allow poultry and livestock feed millers to have access to the National Strategic Grains Reserve as part of palliatives to support the industry.
“Livestock must be fed 24/7, therefore special palliatives should also be extended to poultry and livestock feed millers by giving them access to grains in the National Strategic Grains Reserve to preserve our poultry and livestock resources at this difficult time.
“In addition, Government should consider providing stimulus packages and a social safety net for animal sector value chain actors to cushion them against the impact of COVID-19 lockdown during this period,” he said.
Agaie, however, commended the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for bringing on board the BSL-3 Laboratory of the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom, Plateau State.
He said, with the quality and quantity of manpower and state-of-the-art facilities at the NVRI, it would save the country scarce resources meant for other activities in support of curtailing this infection.
“We commend the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the NCDC for bringing on board the BSL-3 Laboratory of the National Veterinary Research Institute (NVRI), Vom, Plateau State as one of the network of laboratories to handle laboratory confirmation of suspected cases of this infection.
“This indeed is in line with global best practices and spirit of “One Health” that have brought together health professionals and veterinarians across the world to combat this pandemic,” he added.
He recommended that “government should speed up the process of procuring adequate and sufficient WHO-approved COVID- 19 test kits and reagents to enhance the work of the accredited laboratories across the country and bring on board if need be quickly additional laboratories for testing.
“As these laboratories could serve as the foundation for laboratory diagnosis of other viral hemorrhagic fevers that have become intractable in the country for decades post-COVID-19.
“Government at all levels should continue to roll out palliatives efficiently and transparently to support citizens to stay at home as long as the lockdown last and work out modalities to get businesses back to work as soon as possible without much financial shock.”