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Vet dept calls for decentralisation of testing services

The provincial veterinary services officer, Polex Moyo, has called for the decentralisation of testing services to detect pathogens affecting livestock and animals in order to efficiently control and eradicate diseases.

Centralised testing can be a lengthy process that delays decision making as specimens are transported to a centralised laboratory setting where they undergo a range of diagnostics.

Moyo raised this during a visit made by the United Nations and Humanitarian Coordinator for Zimbabwe, Edward Kallon at the Bulawayo Provincial Veterinary Laboratory Friday where the laboratory was recently refurbished to diagnose drug resistant infections.

“We resumed work this week after the renovations were done and we are still trying to adapt to the new setup,” he said.

The Provincial Veterinarian noted the next important factor was decentralisation of testing.

“We need to do additional tests. For example, the most important one for us provincially, we are doing the Foot and mouth disease (FMD) and it’s not only the microbial tests. Rabies testing is another test which we strongly feel we should do locally,” Moyo said.

Moyo also indicated that the laboratory faced challenges with lack of proper testing equipment when conducting Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) testing.

The other problem which we always refer to with AMR is there is sensitivity and testing for vaccines, the issue is about the available drugs on the market and the available disks sometimes they don’t match. We don’t match the drugs that are on the markets and disks. When the farmers come, they are using these kinds of drugs and we can’t test their sensitivity, however, this issue is more of a national issue which I think needs to be synchronised,” said the provincial director.

In response, the UN resident coordinator said he was in Bulawayo to be appraised of the work done from their assistance and see what else needed to be improved.

“We are meeting the whole UN systems for annual planning in Victoria Falls and this is good opportunity for me to have a feel of what is happening,” Kallon said, noting that he was new in Zimbabwe as he had just presented his credentials on March 3, 2022 to President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“I came to see what the UN is doing and what we can do better.”

Veterinary Resident Officer at the Provincial Veterinary Laboratory, Dr Clifford Tshuma led the UN Resident Coordinator around the premises, showing him the renovations.

“We now have glass and aluminium inside the laboratory as we used to have wood. This is safer, clearer and up to standard. The laboratory has also been divided into sections and we have an emergency shower, necessary in the era of Covid-19. Each room has been fitted with internet to make sharing of information easier,” he said.

Dr Tshuma also said the main reason for renovations was the AMR unit, where the laboratory now had a bacteriology room to conduct surveillance, testing and reporting.

The provincial veterinarian officer added that the laboratory needed alternative power and water supply sources.

“Power outages are back and we do have a generator which supports the work but it is small. We would have loved a more stable power source. We are so grateful for the assistance to our laboratory. We hope we have more training so that people can effectively use the equipment, new facilities and adapt to new advances and technologies,” Moyo said.

Another challenge faced by the Provincial Veterinary laboratory cited by Moyo was the disposal of bacteria.

“How do we dispose of the bacteria? Do we put it in the environment or destroy it. We have been trying to use firewood and the municipality for disposal, we can’t meet the costs,” he said.

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