September 01, 2005


 Iraq, Afghanistan representatives address animal health issues

Posted August 15, 2005

As part of the 28th World Veterinary Congress, representatives from Iraq and Afghanistan made presentations on the countries' leading animal health concerns during the Iraq/Afghanistan Assistance Strategic Working Group held in the International Pavilion at the Minneapolis Convention Center in July.

At the beginning of the session, AVMA President-Elect Roger K. Mahr commented on the AVMA's interest in working with the two countries side-by-side as one profession with one vision for animal and human health.

Following Dr. Mahr's comments, Dr. David Sherman, country program director for the Dutch Committee for Afghanistan, discussed the areas of primary concern in Afghanistan, including regulatory veterinary medicine, and veterinary education, clinical services, and professional development.

In Afghanistan, the government veterinary service is currently unable to effectively address its regulatory and public health functions, including transboundary disease control, zoonotic disease control, disease surveillance, food safety, and quality control of vaccines and medicines.

"Basically we need a government veterinary service, which currently doesn't exist in almost any shape or form," Dr. Sherman said. He also explained that many laboratories have been destroyed or lack necessary equipment and trained personnel.

Animal health has also been an issue, considering the two and a half decades of war that have critically degraded the veterinary infrastructure and professional resources of Afghanistan. Dr. Sherman reported that in 2004, outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease, "peste des petits" ruminants, and rabies were reported from various provinces.

In Iraq, diseases have also impacted animal production. Representatives from the country reported that leading diseases of concern include FMD, brucellosis and tuberculosis in cattle, and equine influenza. The Iraq representatives identified other key problems facing animal health protection such as electricity shortages that affect storage of vaccines, diagnostic kits, and laboratory samples. Also, the country does not implement rules to control animal slaughter inside slaughterhouses, and there is no animal feed inspection laboratory available to detect feed contamination.

During the WVC session, representatives from both countries and their colleagues looked toward the future and offered recommendations on ways to improve the veterinary structures in their countries. The session served as a follow-up to a meeting held in September 2004 in Kuwait City. At that meeting, more than 50 veterinary leaders gathered to discuss ways U.S. veterinary organizations could help rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan's veterinary structures.