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UN helps vaccinate livestock, fight rabies threat in Afghanistan

UN helps vaccinate livestock, fight rabies threat in Afghanistan

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today announced that a national vaccination campaign targeting more than 5 million farm animals is going on in Afghanistan, and that it was also supporting the fight against rabies in major cities to protect people from the fatal disease.

Around 10 million doses of animal vaccines have been distributed to almost 30 provinces, said FAO, which is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry as well as non-governmental organizations. Cattle, sheep, goats and chickens are being vaccinated against important endemic diseases such as peste des petits ruminants (PPR), enterotoxaemia, anthrax, sheep pox, Newcastle disease and gumboro.

In the past, livestock production has played a key role in the Afghan household economy and has been responsible for up to 40 per cent of national income. However, the past four years of drought have led to dramatic losses of livestock due to the lack of feed and water.

“Many farmers and nomads are poor and cannot afford to pay the full price for the vaccines,” said Aggrey Majok, FAO Animal Health Adviser. “This is the reason why FAO is providing vaccines at a lower cost. Farmers have to pay about 20 percent of the full price.”

Meanwhile, the UN agency is also taking part in a rabies control programme in major Afghan cities to vaccinate more than 150,000 dogs. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports approximately 400 people bitten by rabies-suspicious animals throughout the country every month, and several deaths from rabies in humans have been reported in the past. Despite the ongoing vaccination of domestic dogs, there is still a large number of stray dogs that need to be controlled.