Partners refurbish production office and veterinary laboratory in Manafwa district

MANAFWA-The people of Manafwa district can now expect to keep healthier animals, receive timely assistance in the event of a disease outbreak, protect their crops, and enhance their livelihoods, following the Shs 90 million renovation of the district’s production office building.

The support was courtesy of Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations [FAO], through its Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases [ECTAD]. The district now boasts of fully renovated infrastructure to facilitate animal and plant health service delivery.

“The new facility will provide a mini laboratory for timely diagnosis of animal health challenges and boost our efforts in influencing the minds of district staff about the importance of laboratory diagnostics to effectively address One Health challenges such as disease outbreaks”, said Dr. Boniface Obbo, the Manafwa district production officer.

Carved out of Mbale district in 2005, Manafwa district is bordered by Bududa district to the north, Kenya to the east and south, Tororo district to the southwest and Mbale district to the west. Namisindwa is another district in proximity.

According to Obbo, the refurbished structure will provide more space for operations and storage of vaccines and other paraphernalia necessary for One Health activities. Uganda adopted the One Health approach as early as 1980 through the establishment of the Veterinary Public Health Division in the Ministry of Health.

“With the improved facility, the neighboring Bududa and Namisindwa districts will have better access to animal health diagnostics, cold chain support and a nearer location to send samples for testing”, he said. He noted that due to limited space in Manafwa and the poor facilities in the sub-region, the districts had resorted to storing vaccines in public health centers.

“FAO is committed to working with the Government of Uganda to ensure that the One Health approach is effectively used to anticipate, detect and respond to public health challenges, which affect food, feed, incomes and lives”, said Antonio Querido, FAO Representative in Uganda.

“Recently, we reported a suspected anthrax outbreak but we had to send samples to the National Animal Disease Diagnostics and Epidemiology Centre [NADDEC] in Entebbe,” Obbo said. “Once commissioned, we are going to see a big change in diagnostics and better perceptions of the locals with this improvement to our capacity,” he said.

The mostly mountainous district, whose people keep both local and exotic livestock breeds, still grapples with limited human capacity to manage laboratory diagnostics, limited cold chain capacity for vaccines storage, power fluctuations which disrupt cold chain and poor storage facilities.

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