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Vets to Man Animal Drug Shops to Curb Resistance

Ssentumbwe says the ministry will liaise with police to ensure professionals are manning the drugshops and also prescribing animal drugs across the country, not just in Kampala where operations have been carried out so far this year.

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The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF says it will commence  nation-wide operations by end of the year to ensure veterinary doctors are the ones prescribing animal drugs in shops and pharmacies. 

This is in line with the country's commitment to boost it's efforts  against Antimicrobial Resistance-AMR.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs due to misuse or overuse of drugs that treat against disease causing agents, known as microbes, such as fungi, bacteria, viruses and parasites. 

Dr Juliet Ssentumbwe, the Director Animal Resources at MAAIF, says when animal or human  drugs are misused and overused, there is a change in genes of the microbes, making it difficult for the drugs in circulation to combat them.

Ssentumbwe says the ministry will liaise with police to ensure professionals are manning the drug shops and  also prescribing animal drugs across the country, not just in Kampala where operations have been carried out so far this year. 

This is because unregulated access and distribution of animal drugs is one of the factors fueling drug resistance in Uganda.

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She added that drug resistance is fueled by absence of adequate laboratories to detect and diagnose diseases and also  farmers who use   drugs without knowing  the disease their animals such as poultry, cattle, goats among others are suffering from.

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Ssentumbwe made the remarks on Thursday while receiving donations from the Infectious Diseases Institute, based at Makerere University, with funding from the United Kingdom. The institute has donated items including reagents for the veterinary diagnostic laboratories in Gulu, Arua and Mbale and three motorcycles  to enable veterinary officers there to carryout  surveillance and sensitisation  in communities and on farms.

Ssentumbwe  says  the donations are  timely. 

"We do not know the magnitude of antimicrobial resistance in Uganda," she said.  "So these donations will help us to do a pilot study in Arua, Gulu and Mbale because they host regional laboratories and results of the study will inform the ministry and donors on how to proceed with the regional laboratories in Mbarara, Lira, Masaka, Moroto  and the rest of the country."  

The donations are part of the activities to mark the world Antimicrobial resistance week of awareness. The week will run from November 18-24th under the theme "Spread Awareness, Stop Resistance".

Ssentumbwe says some of the microbes are now resistant to certain drugs, including  penicillin, in Uganda.

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She however wants the pilot project in the three regional laboratories to provide  more accurate information about the problem of resistance and also identify the affected drugs and perpetrators of misuse.

Philip Wakimwere, the District Veterinary Officer at Mbale, says his department will need additional funds to carry out the surveillance and also maintain the donated motorcycle. 

"Off-head calculations indicate that we need close to Shillings 600,000 for fuel, lubricating oil, servicing and replacing spare parts in a year," he said. "We do not have this money currently because we even receive less than what we need to pay for utilities every year."

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However for Dr. Willy Nguma, the Arua District Veterinary Officer, his department will be able to refuel and service the motorcycle with funds allocated this financial year.

"We have been allocated Shillings 36 million and we are therefore able to add expenses for the motorcycle without any difficulty,"  Nguma says. "After all, this motorcycle will boost our surveillance capacity in the 13 districts we serve."

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He says veterinary officers must consider curbing drug resistance as a key priority because it will affect the environment, animals and humans.

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