Tuesday 19 May 2020
The National Executive Council has approved an initial K2.3 million towards the fight against the African Swine Fever (ASF) incursion in the country.
The country’s biosecurity watch-dog, National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA) ,announced the approval today, while beefing up bio-security check points.
In acknowledging and thanking Minister for Agriculture and Livestock (DAL), Hon. John Simon and the Marape – Steven Government, NAQIA’s Managing Director, Mr. Joel Alu said K1 million will come from the Department of Agriculture and Livestock’s (DAL) Livestock Development Corporation (LDC) funds while K1.3 million will come from the Treasury’s Consolidated Revenue funds.
The presence of the ASF, a deadly virus of the pigs was first reported in late 2019 after a large number of pigs were dying in the Mendi Munihu area and parts of Nipa district in the Southern Highlands province.
Clinical observations of the dead pigs were presented as follows: collapse and sudden deaths; blood in orifices, nose and mouth; death occurs in every 6-7 out of 20 pigs per herd or village that is 30-35 per cent mortality rate; and post mortems revealed congested liver, heart appears to be cut across.
Mr. Alu said NAQIA has acted swiftly by deploying a team of animal health experts including veterinarians and representatives from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to the area to investigate the reports.
“The team did initial containment, delimiting surveillance, carried out Rapid Field Tests, and conducted awareness campaigns on ASF outbreak between March 3 and 13.
“Based on advice by the Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), Dr. Ilagi Puana, Minister Simon officially declared Southern Highlands, Enga and Hela provinces on Mar 30, 2020 as “disease areas” and in quarantine,” Mr Alu said.
Mr Alu said NAQIA was working around clock to stop further spread of the ASF into other parts of the highlands and the country, adding that since the deployment of NAQIA’s second team of animal health experts into the area between Mar 28 and April 18, 2020 , nine more biosecurity road check points have been set up, from the initial two, in the following locations:
- Kama – border between Tambul, WHP and Upper Mendi, SHP;
- Kirene junction – Imbongu district, SHP;
- Sumiya junction, Lower Mendi LLG, SHP;
- Mila junction, Lai valley Rural LLG, Mendi district, SHP;
- Sakuril junction, lai valley Rural LLG, Mendi district, SHP;
- Kamalya – border of Kandep, Enga province and Lai valley, SHP;
- Wapu junction – Lai valley Rural LLG, SHP and Komo Magarima, Hela province;
- Tango – Upper Wage LLG, Komo Magarima district, Hela province; and
- Keaip junction – Kandep Rural LLG, Kandep district, Enga province.
NAQIA is working in collaboration with FAO, and Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Plus Program, the respective provincial governments and administrations and local communities to strengthen containment lines, establish additional road check points at strategic entry/exit routes, undertake trace back and trace forward investigations, conduct further disease surveys and identify trade hubs in the affected provinces and districts within the region.
He said the team increased the distribution of ‘risk communication’ materials about the ASF to the communities and general public and also increased and extended public awareness campaigns in the Declared Disease Areas and to the neighbouring districts and provinces.
Dr. Puana during a stakeholders’ address on April 8 in Port Moresby said, “ pigs are valuable animals, it is our livelihood, it is a living bank, its everything, we have to respond quickly in containing the virus (ASF) so it remains where it is.
“In order to do that, we have to do movement control. To support movement control we need to do awareness. This is where you (stakeholders) come in. Implementing strategies will centre on Awareness, Containment, and Culture – where we want to work with people who have traditional knowledge and ability to communicate in local dialects with people in the affected villages. If we use these strategies correctly, we can contain the disease and control it.”
NAQIA had submitted for K18 million to the National Government following an FAO expert team visit to PNG in October, 2019 that assisted PNG in its level of preparedness in the event of an ASF outbreak.
Mr. Alu said this request has been approved for full funding in the 2021 national budget by NEC.
“An ASF outbreak emergency in PNG will present unprecedented resourcing, operational and logistical challenges and has potential to cause significant social upheaval with associated sub-national and national political and security implications, particularly in the highlands region”, the FAO report on ASF alert mission to PNG stated.