Outbreak of foot and mouth disease four years ago largely due to collapse of state’s ability to manufacture vaccines
THE outbreak of foot and mouth disease four years ago, which cost South Africa R4bn a year in lost exports, was largely due to the collapse of the state’s ability to manufacture vaccines.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told a press briefing on Wednesday on the lifting the ban of red meat exports by the World Animal Health Organisation (WAHO). The removal of the boycott will not affect red meat producers significantly as South Africa usually imports the product to satisfy domestic demand. Only about 1% of red meat production, mainly venison, is exported. Other animal exports include hides and wool.
This is actually horrifying, in the context of what is SUPPOSED to be Africa’s most developed economy – and especially its most developed agricultural economy.
Really: it is a fact not much appreciated outside of the agricultural sector, that we have to get our FMDV vaccines from BOTSWANA.
That’s right – the country with the largest economy in Africa gets its FMDV vaccines from the Botswana Veterinary Institute, a factory set up by the French in a country with a total population about a quarter of that of Greater Johannesburg.
So, let us get this straight: the country that owns the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute, where the legendary Sir Arnold Theiler pioneered virus and other vaccines from the 1890s on, cannot make its own FMDV vaccines any more?
The country that USED to make a whole range of animal vaccines via the state-owned facility that is now Onderstepoort Biological Products, is now struggling to make just a few?
The country that once built a state-of-the-art BSL4 facility dedicated to FMDV now cannot operate it, or even make old-style killed vaccines?
Don’t let me get started on human vaccines, because we now don’t make ANY – but the erosion of our capacity to make vaccines means our ability to look after human and animal health is now severely under threat.
See on www.bdlive.co.za