Government has assured the general public that all strategies are in place to ensure that the country stays free from Avian Influenza, popularly known as bird flu.
The assurance comes amidst fears of the flu carrying virus finding its way into the country through importation of poultry and poultry products following reports of an outbreak in three countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Acting Director in the Department of Livestock and Animal Health in the Ministry of Agriculture, Patrick Chikungwa, told the press in Lilongwe Thursday that the threat was real particularly due to regional cross-border trade.
He said: “The threat for Malawi is real due to presence of potential risk factors which include porous borders, large susceptible domestic birds, illegal movement of animal and animal products and relaxed surveillance after long periods of inactivity with respect to bird flu.”
He thus assured that as part of preparedness, Malawi has reactivated its taskforce and technical working group on bird flu, which would be chaired by Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and co-chaired by Ministry of Health.
“Government has since intensified its prevention measures through enforcement of importation restrictions such as ban of poultry and poultry products from the infected countries,” Chikungwa said.
He also disclosed that Government had engaged key stakeholders such as poultry producers, importers, parks and wildlife in efforts to successfully effect the preparedness.
Chikungwa went on to say they are also strengthening diagnostic capacity for screening and confirmation of the disease and intensification of surveillance for early detection and response.
In the SADC region, the disease was first detected in the Democratic Republic of Congo followed by Zimbabwe and recently South Africa.
Government has since appealed to all Malawians to collaborate and cooperate by adhering to the set up strategies.