Vaccination campaign for more than 2.2 million ruminants, thanks to €5.7 million EU-funded project ... (10/04/2012)

Tirana, 6 April 2012


A national vaccination campaign was launched today to vaccinate more than 2.2 million small ruminants in the whole country against brucellosis. The campaign is part of the €5.7 million project funded by the European Union to improve consumer protection of zoonotic diseases. The project tackles the technical and administrative capacities of the state veterinary service to plan and effectively implement appropriate measures for the eradication and control of zoonotic diseases.

With 60% of human diseases originating from animal diseases, animal health is not only an economic issue of the farming family and therefore of consumers, but also a serious public health issue. Every year Albania records several hundred cases of people affected by brucellosis - a much higher proportion of the population being affected compared with the whole Union. The vaccination of small ruminants (sheep and goats) is expected in medium term to produce a strong reduction of brucellosis in animals and especially humans. Such action is part of the EU support to veterinary services in Albania to become able to approximate the legislation with the EU acquis (as required in the Article 95 of the Stabilization and Association Agreement) and to strengthen their capacities to adopt in practice the principles governing the EU food safety policy: "from stable to table" and "one health".

During the opening ceremony of the vaccination campaign, the Head of the EU Delegation to Albania, Ambassador Ettore Sequi noted that “the EU plans to support the repetition of similar vaccination campaigns against brucellosis in small ruminants for few years until the confirmed cases are reduced drastically”. If vaccination is to be effective, however, it should go beyond seasonal campaigns and “become a substantial element of disease prevention policy in Albania”, he added. Ambassador Sequi went on to emphasise that long-term success in both farm economics and health, will depend on increased awareness of the importance of animal disease eradication policy of all actors involved in the food chain; strong and continuous cooperation between public health surveillance, food safety authorities and veterinary controls, because the reduction of risks from zoonotic diseases is a cross-sectoral and multidisciplinary issue; and last but not least, on adequate staffing of the responsible institutions, particularly those at the central level.

In the last 4 years, the EU has allocated more than €27 million to support agriculture in Albania in the areas of veterinary, food safety and rural development. In the veterinary sector EU funds have enabled the preparation of strategies for the control and eradication of zoonotic diseases, the development of the farm register, better animal identification and registration and harmonisation with animal health databases. Ongoing efforts include the identification and registration of small ruminants and raising the diagnostic capacities of veterinary laboratories.

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