By Felicia Imohimi
Abuja, Sept. 28, 2020 The Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) has urged the National Assembly (NASS) to fast track the review of the Animal Disease Control Act in order to curtail rabies infection in the country.
Dr Bala Muhammad, Chairman, FCT Chapter of NVMA, also the Vice President, Veterinary Council of Nigeria (VCN), made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.
Muhammad was speaking in commemoration of the World Rabies Day (WRD), which is annually celebrated every Sept. 28.
The day, with the 2020 theme as, “End Rabies: Collaborate, Vaccinate”, was instituted by the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC) to move the world towards achieving rabies elimination.
“We have Animal Disease Control Act, which has been in the NASS for review for about eight years.
“It has not been able to scale through; otherwise it takes care of infectious diseases, including rabies as one of the infectious diseases,” Muhammad said.
The NVMA chairman who identified rabies as one of the very important zoonotic diseases in Nigeria and a global burden, noted that it accounted for over 50,000 human deaths annually in the country.
Muhammad, who also frowned at the prevalence of rabies in human and its associated death rates in the country, blamed it on poor implementation of the disease control legislation.
According to him, a lot of people still keep dogs without any notice and proper vaccination.
Muhammad noted the presence of so many stray dogs in the streets, most especially in underserved community.
According to him, a lot of dog owners in underserved communities lack access to quality vaccines.
Muhammad stressed that lawmakers need to look at the legislation very seriously, because people still keep dogs without notice, thereby increasing the chances of many affected by rabies.
“Government’s commitment with regard to rabies control should ensure that underserved community has to be well covered and this cannot be achieved without having very good laws.
“Even in the city centres of Lagos and Abuja, some people still keep dogs without vaccination although we have rich laws in place.
“However, if the laws need to be reviewed, they should be reviewed,” he said.
The chairman called for a collaborative programme that would involve the government, pet owners and other stakeholders in determining and containing the deadly disease.
Speaking on the year’s theme, Muhammad urged dog owners to be very responsible.
According to him, the weakest link of the infectious disease is in the dog.
“It will be nice to have government play a key role by providing enabling environment in getting most dogs in our rural communities vaccinated repeatedly,” Muhammad said.
He says that both veterinary and human health professionals need to work together in curbing most infectious diseases, particularly rabies.
“Once one is affected, there is little or nothing you can do. In that case, the individual will die.
“Therefore, it is important that we spend a lot of time and a lot of resources in containing it in our dogs,” Muhammad said.