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Vet doctors demand better regulation of animal drugs

UVA President Doctor Kasibule interacting with the MAAIF committee at ESAMI in Kampala on Friday. COURTESY PHOTO

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA) has asked government to give them a greater role in the regulation of veterinary drugs to help stop a flood of fake products in the country.

They have demanded that government brings back the regulation of veterinary drugs to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).

“As a follow-up to the still standing Presidential directive regarding finding solutions to the problem of the known chaotic nature of regulation of veterinary pharmaceuticals, the process of establishment of an effective veterinary drug regulatory body under MAAIF which was initiated by the previous Cabinet ought to be completed,” said UVA president Daniel Kasibule as he made a presentation Friday to a  special Committee on Effectiveness of Agro chemicals and animal Health Products (CEAHP).

The committee of Ugandan experts is examining the frequent outcry of farmers and other farming stake-holders regarding the quality and efficacy of animal and crop drugs and other inputs in the control and fight against diseases.

The committee, set up last year by Minister Frank Tumwebaze, is chaired by Prof John David Kabasa, the Principal, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University.

Others on the committee are Dr. Eve Kasirye Alemu vice chairperson, Dr. Stevens Kisaka secretary, and  Dr. Jullian Omalla, Beatrice Byarugaba, Dr. John Nuwagaba, Tayebwa Rutamwebwa, Dr. Ben Ssekamatte, Flora Kiconco and Dr. Patrick Vudriko members.

Kasibule told the committee about the lack of regulatory measures and structures for enforcing safety of veterinary drug use especially measures for protecting the public from drug residues in animal products.

He recommended that access to restricted veterinary drugs by non-veterinary professionals should only be granted upon presentation of a prescription from a qualified veterinary professional.

“There is an urgent need to fill vacant positions in veterinary units in the various District Local Governments. The majority of issues concerning misuse of veterinary drugs and agrochemicals relate not only, although mainly, to regulation but also human resource challenges,” Kasibule said.

He called for clarity of roles and responsibilities, through a return control of veterinary drugs and other animal inputs to veterinary professionals; crop agrochemicals to crop specialists and qualified chemists; human drugs to pharmacists and other medical professionals.

FILE PHOTO: A typical drugs shop

Role of the CEAHP committee

When announcing the committee last year, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries Tumwebaze said the team will assess the persistence of drug related problems, including the prevalent drivers and propose viable interventions towards the issues of quality and the regulatory frameworks of agro chemicals and agro-inputs.

“Whereas application of agrochemicals in agriculture has several benefits which range from yield increase of agricultural crops and soil fertility to pest management, crop protection and increased productivity in the livestock subsector, over the past decade, there have been growing concerns on the low levels of efficacy of some of the available agrochemicals,” Tumwebaze said as he named the team today.

He added, “This prompts the question – what is the problem?  Is the problem the quality of drugs because of weak government regulation? (are fake drugs being dumped onto our market?). Is it poor application by farmers? or it’s an issue of disease resistance against the available drugs? Or is it a combination of some or all the above? We need to know and respond appropriately in a precise and concise manner.”

Tumwebaze said, answers to these questions will help the Ministry fulfil its mission to transform the sector from subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture.

“Regulation of Veterinary drugs by Veterinarians should have been done yesterday. Denying veterinarians to take control of veterinary drugs makes veterinarians power less like a solider without a gun,” UVA General Secretary Dr Boniface Obbo said soon after the committee was named.

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