UN agricultural agency launches project to restore veterinary services in Iraq

31 May 2005
Restoring veterinary services in Iraq

With years of upheavals and neglect having damaged the farming sectors that provide major sources of protein for the Iraqi diet, the United Nations agricultural agency today has launched a project to benefit nearly 5 million people by restoring urgently needed veterinary services.

With years of upheavals and neglect having damaged the farming sectors that provide major sources of protein for the Iraqi diet, the United Nations agricultural agency today has launched a project to benefit nearly 5 million people by restoring urgently needed veterinary services.

Under the new project, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) would train veterinary staff in technical, management and research skills for surveillance and control of disease and the maintenance of public health, provide clinical supplies and equipment, re-establish diagnostic and quality control laboratories and build and equip nine veterinary centres and seven cold storage facilities.

Iraq still has about 2.5 million cattle, as well as 17 million sheep and goats, FAO said, and herds migrate throughout the country and its neighbours. Any surge in livestock diseases would decrease the production of meat, milk and eggs, the most important sources of protein for the population.

Veterinary services, including veterinary hospitals, clinics, diagnostic facilities and cold storage and distribution systems have deteriorated and the country has been facing a serious deficit in disease surveillance and emergency preparedness, crucial elements in fighting endemic and exotic animal diseases, especially those that can be passed to humans, FAO said.

Brucellosis, Congo-Crimean haemorrhagic fever and anthrax are threats to humans and should be controlled by modern veterinary services, it said.

"Brucellosis is a bacterial disease passed to humans from milk, causing recurring fever, joint pain and severe headaches. It is estimated that over 1.5 million sheep are infected with the disease in the country," FAO Senior Animal Health expert David Ward said.

Transboundary animal diseases such as Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD), screwworm and “peste des petits ruminants” (PPR), also known as goat plague, are also threatening Iraq and the region, FAO said.

Other preventable diseases of concern include haemorrhagic septicaemia, sheep and goat pox and those diseases that limit production, such as mastitis, it said.

 

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