Thursday, 15 June 2017

Vets Call for Hygienic Packaging of Meat in Lagos Markets

An NVMA official (right) sensitising meat vendors at a market in Agege, Lagos
Rebecca Ejifoma
Worried over the continuous unhygienic handling of meat products in Nigeria, the Nigeria Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA) Lagos has urged meat sellers against unhygienic slaughtering and processing of cattle for consumption in dirty environment or exposing it to flies and other germs.

The Association made this crayon call at the Meat Hygiene Awareness Campaign 2017 held at Agege in Lagos at the weekend. According to Chairman of the Association, Dr. Omobolaji Alao, consumption of such unhygienic meat and meat products often come with some health dangers as a number of diseases can be contacted if not properly handled; thus could be fatal.

"Such harmful practice can result in Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Leptospirosis Salmonellosis ( typhoid fever) among others." He lamented that Nigeria is fourth in the world with highest case of tuberculosis.

The Veterinarian continued that of all the diseases causing pathogens known to man, 61% of them are known to affect both man and animals.  "We refer to them as zoonotic diseases. And currently Nigeria is ranked 4th in the world. - behind India, Indonesia and China - with the highest cases of tuberculosis based on a 2016 report of the World Health Organisation (WHO)."

Meanwhile, Alao disclosed that a global report conducted in 2014 by the National TB and Leprosy Control Programme (NTBLCP) had it that over 600,000 new cases of tuberculosis occurred in Nigeria.

"Brucellosis - caused by Brucella abortus, an organism that is common in cattle - is a common occurrence in herdsmen and abattoir workers who has shown higher antibody titres for this organism; adding that this occurs via the illicit handling of  aborted foetuses by herdsmen or evacuated foetuses from slaughtered cows at abattoirs.

Sadly, he peaking further, he bemoaned that the disease in man often comes with undulating fever and sweating. "People often mistake these symptoms for malaria. it is also a cause of infertility. Salmonella disease - typhoid fever - is known to affect 21.5 million people every year globally with majority from poor under developed nations.

Alao expressed: "Typhoid fever is a growing monster within Nigeria with significant morbidity and human mortality.the organism can be found in meat, egg and milk."

Now with a vehement aim to effect a change like educate the public on the health dangers of consuming unhygienically processed  meat and meat products, sensitising butchers and meat sellers alike on the dangers of unwholesome practices in their slaughtering processes and sales of meat and meat products, Alao added, "Although change won't come over night, we shall continue our campaign and awareness programme."

The Chairman suggested, however, that the meat produce for sale should be neatly packaged, protected from flies and buyers robbing them with hands.

"We demand butchers to desist from unwholesome means of slaughtering and processing of  meat animals at our various slaughter houses and abattoirs especially slaughtering of meat animals on bare floor. They should embrace modern and hygienic process of slaughtering meat animals."

Accordingly, statistics shows that Lagos state slaughters about 6000 cattle daily (aside sheep, goats and pigs). "But we have just 24 veterinarians in Lagos state employment to supervise the slaughtering of these animals and still conduct other duties."

Therefore, for vets to effectively cover meat inspection demands of the state more veterinarians needs to be engaged; adding that the government should pay more attention to this problem in order to deliver a comprehensive health package befitting of a mega city status such as Lagos state.

He alongside his team unanimously suggested that meat vendors should sell in hygienic selling wares, neatly wrapped in cellophane and stored in refrigerating systems; and "Government should speed up the upgrade of existing slaughter facilities to accommodate modern trends and the rapid completion of private abattoirs around the state.