Despite the severe impact of avian flu, KZN’s ANC-run provincial government has failed to lead any campaign on the issue or educate communities on their important role in eradicating the outbreak.
Many within the province are unaware that avian flu – or bird flu – can be transmitted to humans and that safety precautions need to be taken when handling either dead or diseased birds.
There has also been little advice for those within the poultry industry in terms of wearing personal protective equipment and hand washing with disinfectant soap after contact with poultry or birds.
In failing to create awareness, the government is failing our farming industry and communities. This, as more than 20% of chickens in the country have died or been culled to deal with a new highly contagious strain of the disease.
This, as two of the largest chicken producers have lost more than R335 million. This, as an estimated 10 million birds are infected, 6 million have died and a further 1.7 million died from the first strain earlier in the year.
What will it take for the ANC government to act in the face of a growing food security crisis? The government should be limiting the movement of vehicles, people and poultry at such farms.
It should be placing farms under strict controls and ensuring that outbreaks are speedily reported to state veterinary services.
Regrettably, long-standing and previously ignored challenges within the system have come back to bite the government. The reality is that it does not have the resources to effectively deal with the outbreak.
This includes a lack of proper checks and balances when it comes to measures such as quarantines being implemented. Sadly, it also does not have the ability to assist farmers through compensation.
In failing to properly communicate on and control the bird flu outbreak, the government has placed society, businesses and the economy of our province and our country on a knife edge – one which will ultimately lead to huge job losses, particularly within rural communities.
* DA KZN spokesperson on agriculture and rural development MPL Sithembiso Ngema.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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