The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, says the Federal Government has approved the construction of a modern tsetse mass rearing facility at Vom, Plateau, to eradicate Trypanosomiasis.
Trypanosomiasis is a sleeping sickness in human and animal, transmitted by insect called tsetse fly.
Onu said this at the opening of the five-day, 35th International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control (ISCTRC) conference on Monday in Abuja.
The minister said that the measure was part of the Federal Government’s efforts to eradicate tsetse flies and tryponosomiasis disease in Nigeria and Africa as a whole
Onu said that government approved the facility to generate millions of sterile male tsetse flies for field releases for the mop-up population of tsetse fly that might persist after suppression to achieve eradication.
“I am happy to inform you that with measures already put in place, Nigeria will indeed lead Africa in the fight against the tsetse fly.
“We want to work closely with all other nations in Africa so that together we can reclaim our land presently occupied by tsetse flies.
“I am confident that the outcome of this conference will guide us in the adoption of scientifically based decisions and strategies that will help us in control of tsetse fly and tryponosomiasis,’’ he said.
According to him, Nigeria plays important role in the decision of the African Heads of State and Government that endorsed the Pan African Tsetse and Tryponosomiasis Eradication Campaign (PATTEC Initiative).
PATTEC Initiative was inaugurated in 2001 to begin a renewed effort in the campaign for the eradication of tsetse flies in Africa.
The minister, who wished the delegates successful deliberations, expressed optimism the conference would contribute toward raising awareness of the international community to “this serious problem.“
“The fight against this disease is one that we must win. I am confident that with all of us working together, success will be ours,’’ he said.
Earlier, Prof. Ahmed El-Sawalhy, Director and Head of Mission, AU Inter African Bureau for Animal Resources, said the mandate of PATTEC was to remove the last tsetse fly from the continent.
El-Sawalhy said community participation in tsetse control had been reported to be unsustainable.
“What do we need to do differently to sustain the gains made?
“And once the tsetse flies have been removed from an area, how can the land be used sustainably to avoid over-stocking by some pastoral communities?
“How has climate change impacted livestock rearing in areas known to be tsetse infested?’’ he said.
El-Sawalhy also said there was need to re-strategise tsetse control, eradication and the use of land by using the evidence available from research to re-allocate the limited resources available.
Also speaking, Dr Augustine Igweh, Director-General, Nigerian Institute for Trypanosmiasis Research, Kaduna, said the aim of the conference was for researchers and other stakeholders to interface and interact toward elimination of Trypanosmiasis.
“A lot of works have been done in research institutes and universities, so when we meet at the conference, we present papers and look at the way forward.
“This is the 3rd time Nigeria will be hosting International Scientific Council for Trypanosomiasis Research and Control (ISCTRC) conference since 1949,’’ he said.
Igweh said ISCTRC was established as a vehicle to support coordination and harmonisation of tsetse-transmitted Trypanosomiasis activities.
The conference was organised by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in conjunction with AU commission.
The theme of the conference is “Impact of African Trypanosomiasis on Human and Animal Health, Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in the face of Challenges to Sustainable Investment in Animal African Trypanosomiasis (AAT) Control and Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) Elimination.“
No fewer than 29 countries and multi-lateral organisations are attending the conference across the globe. (NAN)