These are exciting times for the PDMA. After months of planning and organising, we are at a point where the projects are ready for kick-off.
Developing the Business as a jump-start for PDMA
It took a few weeks to develop a business plan that would capture the essence of the agency and how it would forge its way through to achieving the goals that were outlined. A few months also passed while ensuring that the business plan was accepted and approved by the various committees of SAPA. The agency has received a lot of support from Government and other stakeholders. Our host, the Onderstepoort Faculty’s Poultry Section have been very welcoming and extremely supportive.
TRAINING FOR PROVINCIAL STATE VETS
This is initiative a seen as the giant step forward when it comes to Government engagement. It provides the space and opportunity for dialogue, an avenue for collective problem solving. The course will be run by the academic staff of the Poultry Section at Onderstepoort, a team that is lead by the Section Head Dr Buks Wandrag. The trainees will be exposed to practical aspects of the poultry industry. The trainees will have an opportunity to visit a hatchery and watch the processing of day old chicks. They will also visit both a broiler and layer farms. In addition, the vets will spend time in the post-mortem hall learning how to draw blood from a chicken, how to handle blood samples and also the type of diseases that can be tested using blood samples.
Furthermore, they will practice post-mortem procedures, sample handling and learning more about laboratory procedures. The agency recognises the importance of continued learning after the contact week. We are happy to report that the poultry vets are fully supportive of the programme. We have received and overwhelming commitment from the poultry vets to be available to mentor the state vets out there in the field. Each state vet will be allocated a field mentor who will continue with the continuous training, taking over from where the contact session left off. This regular contact between the poultry vets and the state vets will ensure that disease control becomes more manageable over time. The agency commits to continuing with more training should the need grow from the state vets side.
WHAT ABOUT THE DISEASES, YOU MAY ASK?
Disease surveillance, monitoring and control have always been high on the PDMA’s priorities. The notifiable disease, Avian Influenza (AI), Salmonella and Newcastle disease are the entry point for the disease management partnership between government and the agency. After a slow start, we can now report that an AI working session is planned for 7th February. The session will be attended by DAFF Representatives and the SAPA Poultry Health Working Group. The group will work on the various aspects of the AI management, resulting in firm procedures and processes for controlling AI and keeping a firm handle on the disease. It is envisaged that similar forums will be organised to address Salmonella and Newcastle control issues.
In 2012 we spent time looking at Infectious Bronchitis, in particular access to vaccines for the Variant strains. After months of frustrating discussions with Act 35, Act 36 and Medicines Control Council, we can finally report that the departments have agreed to let Act 36 handle the matter. Disease Control has delegated Act 36 to consult with industry advisors on the matter. If there are no objections then the vaccines will be allowed into the country. In the meantime, Act 36 has requested that the agency submit CVs of industry experts who can assist with the evaluation of the dossiers. The names have been submitted with motivations to the Act 36 Registrar. We are optimistic that this issue will be finally resolved through the fast tracking of the registrations of the vaccines.
The agency is working closely will the Research Chair on other issues of diseases and the priorities for research, including recruitment of students for the research projects.
GENERAL DISEASE MONITORING AND SURVEILLANCE
In order to get a good handle on the disease status of the national flock, it is essential that there are systems in place to keep track of all the disease outbreaks in the field. Following a review of the systems used in livestock, we have engaged the CSIR to work with the poultry vets to design a disease reporting system for poultry. A working session is planned for the morning of 7th February to look at the possible systems and establish in greater details what the poultry vets will need out in the field. A good reporting system can be used as an early warning tool because it will be able to pick up any upward trends or any new emerging diseases. The agency will be able to send warnings to both vets and farmers if there are any looming dangers in their respective areas.
In addition to looking at diseases, it is also important to keep an eye on the quality of the product that is being marketed to the consumers. The agency’s involvement in the development of the National Residue Monitoring Programme, in collaboration with DAFF’s Public Health, is an attempt at making strides to address the issue. Working very closely with Dr Louis Theron, the foundation has been set for consultations with the Food Compliance Group of SAPA. Several discussions are planned to design a programme that will be acceptable to the Government, the producers and their customer i.e. the retailers. All entities will be involved in the development of the programme, so that its implementation can receive buy-in timeously.
There was also a realisation from the agency that there is no single point where a farmer can access information on registered products. To address this, the agency engaged a company that specialises in developing searchable databases. The animal health companies were also requested to share their registered products with the agency, which they were very happy to do. The data from the animal health companies will be used to build the database. This database will be accessible from both SAPA and PDMA websites.
COLLABORATIONS WITH OTHER ENTITIES
SAPA is an active member of the Animal Health Forum (AHF). Often, we are called upon to work with other members to address issues. The PDMA on behalf of SAPA has been very active on the issue of the Community Services Vets. The AHF has proposed to DAFF that a pilot project be initiated in order to have a trial run of what running a community service programme will entail. The PDMA director serves on the subcommittee that is mandated to work with government to get the pilot project implemented. The poultry industry stands to gain human resources, who will be funded by the government, but will be available to serve the industry during the one year community service period. This fits in well with the proposed Poultry Vets Placement Programme designed by the PDMA. If the Poultry Vets Placement Programme is implemented through the community service initiative, then the industry does not have to fund the personnel, which means more money to run the actual programmes.
REVEALING THE PDMA AND THE RESEARCH CHAIR TO THE WORLD
The PDMA and Research Chair will be formally revealed to the stakeholders across the country. A launch event is planned for the 27th March 2013. The event will be hosted at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Faculty, where the guests will have an opportunity to tour the laboratory and research facilities to view SAPA’s investment in the research agenda.
At the same time, the PDMA corporate identity and website will also be launched. It is an opportunity to showcase the industry’s commitment to the advancement of science and also to build the pool of expertise for the industry. This is all very exciting as it is the culmination of many years of strategizing and planning.
This year is indeed the year of doing and achieving the long awaited results. It is the year when strides are made in safeguarding the industry, to Protect the National Flock and ensure Food Security. The agency is counting on your support during these very challenging times. It is time to put the wellbeing of the chickens first.