Joy Mackson, Abuja
The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, has revealed that millions of Nigerians, cattle, sheep and goats are being imperilled by Sleeping Sickness, also known as African Trypanosomiasis, warning that the economy is also at risk.
Dr Onu made this observation during the commissioning of the North-East zonal office of the Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis Research (NITR) in Gombe over the weekend.
‘About 40 million Nigerian rural dwellers are affected with sleeping sickness otherwise known as Trypanosomiasis. There is no gainsaying the fact that [it] is a devastating disease that impacts on the economy as well as education of school-age children who instead of being at school will be shepherding their blind parents and relations in villages and towns.
‘The disease is often called the disease of the rural poor and it affects mostly farmers, fishermen, tourists, and cattle rearers.
‘About 19.5 million cattle, 22 million sheep and 34 million goats are at the risk of infection. [it] reduces milk and meat protein, carcass weight, calving rates, and hides Skins production with an increase in abortion infertility and stillbirth.
‘The cost of drugs used in treating the disease is enormous,’ adding that, ‘the North-East will derive a lot of socio-economic benefits with the presence of the zonal office in Gombe.’
The Minister noted that Gombe was chosen to have the zonal office because Gombe is well known for its large cattle population as well as other ruminants.
Dr Onu said the zonal office will also go a long way in helping livestock farmers when cattle ranches are eventually established in the country.