The Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has approved a review of the National Animal Health Policy.
The memo came under deliberation when the Minister of Agriculture, Mohammed Mahmood presented it at the FEC meeting.
According to the minister, the need to forestall the transmission of diseases from animals to humans informed the review of the policy.
He said the Federal Government has commenced vaccination of animals like dogs against rabies, noting that recent occurrences have shown that humans may face greater health risks if animals are not checked against transmittable diseases.
He said: “Council approved Agriculture and Rural Development memo on the revised National Animal Health Policy. The purpose of the memo is to revise the previous policy that deals with animal health. Why the revision? A lot of things have happened, that brought to the fore, the critical importance of animal health, the new components, where we must be very conscious of how healthy the animals are whether they are our pets, livestock that we either use for food or for whatever reasons”.
Explaining further, he said, the frequency of zoonotic diseases, especially those diseases coming from animals to infect humans seems to be on the rise. According to him, there are also transboundary diseases, meaning animals from another country, through going and coming, can infect animals here and then can infect humans.
Mahmood said it may not be good if we just focus on us humans to be healthy, and leave the animals around us unhealthy. He said: “They can infect us, so this is the reason for this move. So we have increased our tracing or caring for the animals, discovering new diseases, or vaccinating these animals.
“For example, we just flagged off the vaccination of dogs that may have rabies, because if they do, they can infect humans. And this is not just viruses, even bacteria can be harboured in animals and can be transmitted to humans. So the purpose of the new policy is to upgrade on the old policy to make sure it’s comprehensive”.
He went further to explain that the new policy was conceptualized out of the need for one health, meaning human health and animal health can be considered as one because one can cause an adverse effect on the other.
He noted that the vaccination exercise is being coordinated in collaboration with state governments because health matters are captured in the concurrent list.
“Just so that you know, states have been carried along. other stakeholders have been carried along. And the whole purpose is to make sure that there’s holistic cooperation and implementation of the policy,” he noted.