Closing the borders is not the solution to the current foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in South Africa, warns Dr Brylyne Chitsunge, the Pan African Parliament’s Ambassador for Food Security in Africa.
The outbreak has led to the temporary suspension of South Africa’s FMD-free status. Any exports where FMD free zone attestation is required, cannot be certified. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries confirmed samples were collected during a disease investigation after reports of cattle with lameness in the Vhembe District of Limpopo.
“This is a national crisis that affects everyone and we should be coming up with solutions to contain the disease”, says Chitsunge, who farms with cattle, goats, chickens and other livestock on Elpasso Farms in Gauteng.
FMD is a severe, highly contagious viral disease which affects livestock with significant economic impact.
“This is a political disease and we need to step up and come together as Africans,” says Chitsunge.
She emphasizes the need for the continent to adopt the same animal healthcare policies.
Chitsunge furthermore questions how over 1.2 million households in South Africa with livestock are reached to empower them about FMD. As the Pan African Parliament’s Ambassador for Food Security, she’s continuously advocating for information hubs to raise awareness since nobody is exempt from to this disease, the meat prices will rise along with everything else.
“Government needs facilitators who can operationalize its policies. The information needs to be disseminated to the grass roots where it’s really needed.” says Chitsunge.
“I’m calling on all Africans for support. It’s all about information being passed on in the right way. We solve this outbreak by talking to people and ensuring that it’s well understood. There is huge potential. If you look at South Africa compared to other countries, our infrastructure is first class. We need to organise ourselves and work collectively together.”
- According to government the disease affects cattle, pigs (domestic and wild), sheep, goats, and other cloven hoofed animals. FMD disease does not affect humans and signs of the disease may include depressed animals, sores in the mouth of animals causing reluctance to eat and lameness. TheDepartment of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says any suspected case of the disease in animals must be reported to the local State Veterinarian immediately.