K2.3 million approved to fight virus
K2.3 million has been approved by Cabinet to assist in the fight against the African Swine Fever incursion.
The National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA), while waiting for the funding, has already spent over K2 million to manage the disease in Southern Highlands Province.
Managing director, Joel Alu, painted a bleak picture of the highly contagious, haemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs that is affecting the highlands region.
“NAQIA was able to spend some money – almost K2 million-plus – without the assistance of any government funding. But today I announce that Government has approved about K2.3 million; but that is only on paper. We haven’t received anything yet.”
Whilst thanking international partners for their support, Alu said NAQIA sourced its funding from its officers’ salaries, rentals and fuel allowance, among others.
“We sacrificed them to get the money to pay and look after our people in the highlands and some parts of Papua New Guinea to try our very best to contain the very deadly disease of pigs,” he stated. “And try to eradicate (it) but the reports I’m getting show that the disease is spreading very fast.”
Initially, the presence of the ASF was reported in late 2019 after pigs were dying in large numbers in the Mendi-Munihu area and parts of Nipa district in Southern Highlands. However, there are now reports of the disease spreading to the eastern part of the highlands in Ialibu-Pangia and Kagua-Erave districts.
“And into Western Highlands in Tambul, into Enga in Kandep and into Hela in Komo-Margarima area,” Alu revealed.
Clinical observations of the dead pigs were presented as follow:
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 percent mortality rate;
Post-mortems revealed congested liver while the heart appears to be cut across.
The situation on the ground is dire, hence NAQIA is appealing to the Treasury Department to release the K1.3 million while the Agriculture and Livestock Department’s Livestock Development Corporation funds will make available K1 million.
Alu expressed disappointment that though funding was approved on the 8th of April, nothing has been forthcoming.