Will government declare national emergency on lumpy skin disease?

PM Shehbaz was requested by Food Ministry to declare national disease emergency on LSD

ISLAMABAD    –   The embattled government soon af­ter assuming the power is undoubt­edly striving hard to meet challenges faced by the country on eco­nomic and political fronts.

The challenges for the coalition govern­ment are seemingly increasing with every passing day. The criti­cism of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and woes and worries of masses over hike in pe­troleum products’ prices and resumption of International Mon­etary Fund (IMF) program are the constant trouble for the government and now lumpy skin disease [LSD] issue has landed in Pakistan.

Realizing the gravity of the situa­tion ahead of Eidul Azha, the Minis­try of National Food and Research around two weeks ago had request­ed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for declaring the ‘national disease emer­gency’ on account of lumpy skin dis­ease [LSD]. The tentative cost is es­timated at Rs 4.8 billion to deal with matters related to vaccination of the entire cattle population against LSD, awareness campaigns, regulation of animal movement and strengthening of diagnostic laboratories and capac­ity building. The submitted summary about a viral disease could not get an immediate action and was referred to the Economic Coordination Commit­tee (ECC) for neces­sary action on it.

The concerned ministry will now hold a meeting with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), representatives of four provinces to chalk out a strategy to deal with fast increasing lumpy skin disease [LSD] in the coun­try. It is feared that the spread ratio of this viral disease in animals, obvi­ously causing economic losses, could increase before ‘Eidul Azha’ in the cattle markets of the country. When contacted, spokesman of Minister for National Food Security and Research Dr Hamayun said that the ministry concerned was making all out effort to avoid spread of LSD in the coun­try. “Several meetings have also been held to expedite efforts to control dis­ease in the animal,” he said, mention­ing that fortunately milk and meat of affected animals was safe for human consumption. It may be mentioned here that The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) also discussed the summary presented by the Ministry of National Food Security and Re­search on the declaration of ‘national disease emergency’ on account of spread of lumpy skin disease in Paki­stan. The ECC after detailed discus­sion directed the Ministry of National Food Security & Research to prepare a cost sharing plan after convening a meeting with provincial secretar­ies concerned and National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

The lumpy skin disease (LSD) is a viral disease of cattle, buffaloes and certain wild animals causing eco­nomic losses however it has no pub­lic health implications. Milk and meat are safe for human consumption.

The causative virus is spreading mainly by vectors such as tsetse flies and mosquitoes. Ten to 20 percent of animals can get sick and 1-55 can die of the disease. According to the avail­able documents, a summary has been submitted for consideration of the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet for declaring the National disease Emergency on account of LSD. “A team of experts from NVL and NARC investigated LSD outbreaks in Bahawalpur for investigation of skin lesion, besides Karachi and other ar­eas of Sindh to determine prevalence and magnitude of disease,” it says. Since disease had never been report­ed in Pakistan before and diagnostic capacity was not available therefore FAO was requested to provide a diag­nostic kit, which provided a kit com­prising 100 tests, and samples were tested and LSD was confirmed.

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