The Agriculture Ministry in Uganda has issued a stern warning to farmers against purchasing Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) vaccines from unauthorised dealers, stressing the need for cooperation in eradicating the disease.
In a bid to combat the spread of FMD effectively, the ministry cautioned farmers against procuring vaccines not imported by the government, citing ongoing investigations to apprehend illegal dealers. This appeal follows a revelation by the National Drug Authority (NDA) identifying counterfeit FMD vaccines circulating in the market, including products such as “Purified FMD FOTIVAX Foot and Mouth Disease Inactivated Vaccine” and “National Veterinary Institute Foot and Mouth Disease Broad Spectrum Vaccine.”
The NDA emphasised that these unapproved vaccines pose significant risks as their safety, quality, and efficacy cannot be guaranteed. According to NDA regulations, FMD vaccines are solely procured and imported by the government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), underscoring the importance of adhering to official channels for vaccine acquisition.
David Kasura Kyomukama, the Permanent Secretary of MAAIF, urged farmers to cooperate with the government’s efforts to eradicate FMD, emphasising the potential dangers of using counterfeit vaccines. He cautioned against purchasing vaccines from unauthorised sources, highlighting the risk of vaccinating against the wrong serotype and ultimately wasting resources.
Reports suggest that some farmers have been purchasing FMD vaccines from unofficial channels, often at lower prices, but the NDA reiterated that any vaccine not procured through government channels is considered fake and potentially hazardous. Investigations into the source of these counterfeit vaccines are ongoing, with authorities urging vigilance among farmers.
In response to the FMD outbreak, the Cabinet approved the immediate sourcing of 10 million doses of FMD vaccines, with each dose estimated to cost $2 (approximately Shs7,600). Despite budgetary constraints, efforts are underway to expedite the procurement process and ensure vaccines reach affected regions promptly.
The economic impact of FMD is substantial, with estimated losses exceeding Shs700 billion nationally. These losses stem from disruptions in the sale of milk and meat and the unfortunate deaths of animals, highlighting the urgent need for coordinated action to curb the spread of the disease.
As the government works towards procuring vaccines and implementing containment measures, farmers are urged to remain vigilant, adhere to official guidelines, and collaborate with authorities to safeguard the health of livestock and protect agricultural livelihoods.