Lack of livestock health infrastructure worrying, says parliamentary panel

India still lacks basic testing and treatment facilities for veterinary diseases, which is worrying, given the increase in zoonotic diseases  

By Vivek Mishra
Published: Thursday 12 August 2021
A livestock pen in Haryana. Photo: Pradip Saha / CSE
A livestock pen in Haryana. Photo: Pradip Saha / CSE A livestock pen in Haryana. Photo: Pradip Saha / CSE

Testing and treatment facilities for veterinary diseases was woefully lacking in India, the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying said a new report August 5, 2021.

This was extremely worrying given that instances of zoonotic diseases were increasing and becoming fatal for humanity, the report added.

Many villages in India still lacked basic testing facilities and required infrastructure. In many cases, even if samples were taken, they needed to be sent to the nearby block or district facilities for test results, the report noted.

The absence of testing facilities and required infrastructure was not only troublesome for livestock owners but also posed the danger of zoonotic diseases.

The Committee said skilled people were needed at the grassroots level to solve this problem. Some states did have mobile veterinary units in villages for basic testing facilities. However, most of them were inefficient due to paucity of funds or lack of resources.

India had 256 state laboratories, 56 veterinary colleges laboratories, 33 ELISA laboratories, five regional and one central disease diagnostic laboratories. But these were insufficient to deal with a vast country like India, the report said.

Moreover, vaccination — considered the most effective method against many diseases — was still not being used effectively.

Many farmers who were dependent on animal husbandry, lost their animals after inoculation due to the inefficiency of vaccines. They neither got any compensation, nor had any proper communication channel been set up between animal owners and the animal husbandry department.

The committee observed that until now there was no provision to compensate the owner in case of death after vaccination. To deal with such issues, it suggested setting up one stop centres at the grassroot level.

It suggested the inclusion of animals like camels and yaks that were milked occasionally in the vaccination programme. The committee recommended awareness programmes in the Himalayan and states in Northeast India.

The Government of India aimed to achieve 100 per cent vaccination for Foot-and-mouth disease under the National Animal Disease Control Programme by 2025.

However, compared to the current requirement, India had 58 million less doses of the brucellosis vaccine. It was used against the infectious brucellosis disease in cows and buffaloes that could also spread from animals to humans.

Apart from quantity, the quality of vaccines was also a big issue. The Committee mentioned that the ministry accepted that their research was not very comprehensive. This was not only delaying the vaccination programme but also leading to the spread of diseases.

The Committee also observed that compared to the target of 456 million vaccines for Foot-and-mouth disease in 2019-20, only 182 million vaccines could be administered.

Similarly, only 0.3 million vaccines for classical swine fever were administered. In fact, in 2020-21, not a single dose of swine fever vaccine was administered.

It suggested that in such situations, the technical information regarding vaccine manufacturing should be transferred to another company by the department concerned.

It suggested the government to look into the misuse of medicines and hormones given to animals, given the grave problem of anti-microbial resistance.

The report was titled Status of Veterinary Services and Availability of Animal Vaccine in the Country.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.