In a bid to prevent the occurrence and outbreak of zoonotic diseases (infectious diseases that are transmitted between species from animals to humans or from humans to animals), health experts have cited mass animal vaccination as an ideal prevention measure.
Considering the fact, the Ministry of Health has prioritized 7 animal diseases including Anthrax, Haemorrhagic Influenza (such as avian influenza-bad flu), Haemorrhagic fever (such as Ebola, Marburg), Brucellosis, Trypanosomiasis, Plague and Rabies to be vaccinated against as revealed by Dr John Opolot, the Assistant Commissioner Veterinary Health and Zoonoses at the Ministry.
Dr Opolot made his remarks while addressing the people gathered to commemorate the World One Health Day at Imperial Royale Hotel, a move he said will reduce the risk of human beings contracting such diseases from the animals.
“When they (the diseases) attack animals and the human beings get infected, the mobility is always high. There is also a likelihood that if not attended to, very many people die. Even if you recover from such infections, life will never be the same again,” he explained.
He stressed that wildlife acquire diseases like anthrax from eating bacteria from a dead animal and can also be infected by sick animals or vector bites and sharing water sources, which in turn can be passed on to humans who interact with the animals.
As such, Dr. Opolot recommended that people should have protective gear while handling animals in order to lessen the chances of contracting the diseases from them.
“Majorities of these diseases, for instance if a dog with rabies bites a human being and they are not attended to, they can die. Even with Anthrax, when a person eats that meat and he is not attended to, there is a high possibility that the person will die. We can not solve this problem in isolation. We need each other. This is a time for us to act,” he said.
Musa Sekamatte, the National One Health Platform (NOHP) Coordinator and senior medical epidemiologist at Ministry of Health said that the NOHP platform brings together health practitioners and other partners to tackle diseases like Ebola joint-handedly.
He also stressed the fact that animal vaccination is key.
“For instance, for the case of Anthrax, once cattle are vaccinated, the disease can’t be picked by humans. Even though the anthrax vaccine is cheap (Shs 2000), treating a patient with the disease is way too expensive,” Sekamatte said.
Dr Florence Grace Adong, the Director for water resources and Ag permanent secretary at Ministry of Wildlife and Environment (MWE), said that over the years, the country has witnessed several disease outbreaks; some of which were uncommon or not well researched on.
Among others, these include epidemics like Ebola, Marburg and the current global pandemic of COVID-19.
Thus, she said, such diseases require a multi-sectoral approach in order to manage them successfully.
“As a country, we have made great strides towards addressing disaster including these diseases and other public related health concerns. However, we need to strengthen our institutional mechanisms of coordination and collaboration through this one health approach,” she recommended.