Home Africa Botswana Steps Up: Scientists Collect FMD Samples in Ugandan Cattle Corridor

Botswana Steps Up: Scientists Collect FMD Samples in Ugandan Cattle Corridor

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In a collaborative effort to bolster regional biosecurity, a team of Botswana scientists embarked on a critical mission last week: collecting foot and mouth disease (FMD) samples from cattle in Uganda’s cattle corridor. This initiative, spearheaded by the Botswana Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food Security (MDAFS) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), aims to enhance disease surveillance and early detection across borders.

“Timely diagnosis and control of FMD are crucial for protecting our livestock industry and regional trade,” emphasised Dr. Oduetse Koboyede, Director of Veterinary Services at the MDAFS, in a press release. “This collaborative project leverages Botswana’s expertise in FMD diagnostics to support Uganda and safeguard the entire East and Southern African region.”

The Ugandan cattle corridor, stretching from the north to the southwest, harbours a vast cattle population and serves as a key economic driver for the country. However, it is also susceptible to FMD outbreaks, posing a significant threat to regional livestock production and international trade.

“Early detection and rapid response are paramount in containing FMD outbreaks, minimising economic losses, and protecting livelihoods,” remarked Dr. Jean Jacques Muyembe, Director-General of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Institute National de Recherche Biomédicale, a partner in the project.

Botswana enjoys a well-deserved reputation for its robust FMD control program and advanced diagnostic capabilities. The Botswana National Veterinary Laboratory (BNVL) is designated as a World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Reference Laboratory for FMD, making it a valuable resource for the region.

“Our participation in this project allows us to share our expertise and contribute to regional disease control efforts,” explained Dr. Batlhalefi Moeti, Head of Virology at the BNVL. “The collected samples will undergo advanced testing at our laboratory, providing valuable insights into FMD strains circulating in Uganda.”

The project underscores the importance of regional collaboration in tackling transboundary animal diseases like FMD. Sharing knowledge, resources, and expertise can significantly bolster biosecurity measures and safeguard the livelihoods of millions across Africa.

“This initiative exemplifies the power of regional cooperation in safeguarding animal and human health,” concluded Dr. Lawrence Kagwa, Director of Animal Health Services at Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. “By working together, we can effectively combat FMD and ensure the sustainable development of our livestock industries.”