Review of Hazard Allowances for Veterinary Professionals Advocated in Lagos

Directors of Veterinary Services, DVS, in the South-West Region of the Country have converged on Alausa in Ikeja, Lagos State, for their maiden symposium themed “Significance of Veterinary Service Delivery in Livestock Development in South Western Nigeria”

In an address of welcome, the Chairman, Conference of Directors of Veterinary Services in the region, Dr Taiwo Jolaoso
explained that the one-day symposium was aimed at creating awareness of some of the Animal diseases with emphasis on methods of mitigating them.

Dr Jolaoso who emphasized the importance Veterinary professionals play in ensuring both human and animal health, canvassed the payment of generous hazard allowances to them.

“Veterinary professionals are pivotal in the improvement and protection of animal and human health, animal welfare, food quality, food safety, food security, ecology, ethology, epidemiology, development of drugs and pharmaceutical, wild life conservation, educators, trainers and policy makers.
Veterinarians as “front liners” are exposed to a high risk of contracting emerging, re-emerging and zoonotic diseases (Ebola, Leptospirosis, Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Anthrax to mention but a few). This justify the need for payment of Hazard allowance to compensate for harms, risks and burdens associated with working as health personnel. Unfortunately, our services are undervalued and we are underpaid and the supposed hazard allowance Veterinarians receive now is at best a farce. A first-order priority for policy makers should be keeping front line health workers and Veterinarians safe on the job and payment of generous hazard allowance to compensate these officers and their families for the essential services they provide for public good”.

In a goodwill message, the Chief Veterinary Officer of Nigeria, Dr. Maimuna Abdullahi-Habib urged the DVS to familiarize themselves with recent laws guiding the profession to enable them do their jobs diligently.

In a keynote address, the Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms Abisola Olusanya, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mrs Tokunbo Emokpae noted that South-Western Nigeria is not very rich in livestock with only less than 10% of the nation’s cattle and 5% of small ruminants, thus, limiting its comparative advantage in natural resources, while its positioning is also limited further by reoccurrence of zoonotic diseases.

To improve its position, the Commissioner revealed that Lagos had
started the implementation of the cattle feedlot at Igbodu for increased local production of hygienic wholesome meat and reduction of dependency on imports from other states.

“As a form of improvement, Government is in the process of recruiting more veterinary doctors to mitigate the effect of the current dearth in the distribution of veterinary doctors to livestock estates and settlements with a ratio of about 1:200. The low access to veterinary doctors in the veterinary centres in the State encourages some farmers to resort to using unapproved antibiotics for their livestock. Also, there is need to track and identify effective vaccines that would stem the improper and excessive use of antibiotics, as well as, inadequate infection prevention and control.

Ms Olusanya pointed out that to ensure a holistic, more effective and sustainable development of the Red Meat Value Chain with positive outcomes such as improved food security, employment, income and quality of life for all, there was need to:
“a. have access to verified vaccines, feeds and veterinary services;
b. Introduce cutting-edge technology for proper tracking and verification of activities in livestock and agricultural sector; c. Encourage and support the private sector, through investment in different aspects of the value chain. Promoting private-sector investment and encouraging public-private partnerships will go a long way in improving the livestock production volume and potentials in South-Western Nigeria”

She assured the stakeholders that the Lagos State Government had mapped out various strategies in its food systems and agricultural roadmap to ensure that Lagosians and the South-western States have access to wholesome and hygienic red-meat amongst other food and solicited support from all willing stakeholders to be partners in the progress of the sector.

Speaking on the “Historical Perspective of Cattle Feedlotting in South West Nigeria, the Assistant Representative Programme, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Dr Abubakar Suleiman stressed that Feedlotting remains the best option for not just Lagos and the South West region alone, but also for the entire Country.

Dr Suleiman also called for an animal breeding policy in the country for uniformity of products, structured markets, as well as an enabling environment, surveillance and sanitary conditions amongst other recommendations.

Other topics highlighted include “Biosecurity Challenge in Livestock farms” “Practical approach to prevention and control of disease outbreaks in fish farming, an integrated one health approach to disease surveillance and the role of veterinarians, while the President, Nigeria Association of Animal Helath and Husbandry Technologists, Comrade Saliu Abubakar renewed the call on government at all levels to protect farmers from bandits.

The maiden symposium was attended by Commissioners for Agriculture in Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Veterinarians, Livestock Farmers and Traders, as well as consumers.

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