Safer Slaughter Outreach Yields Results for Avian Flu Prevention in Egypt

EGYPT - The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO's) Avian influenza - Exposure Reduction Programme (ERP) team visited Minia Governorate in February to follow up on the implementation of the anti-Avian Influenza outreach campaign.
calendar icon 24 March 2016
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Launched by the Food and Agriculture Organisation's Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) in November 2015, the ERP has proved a tangible success, raising awareness among households regarding the risks linked to the traditional Egyptian household poultry-slaughter and promoting safer manual bird-slaughter steps across Egypt.

The FAO launched a nationwide outreach programme to encourage safe/contained poultry slaughter in covered pots (Halla).

The objective is to protect individuals who slaughter poultry in the household sector and also to protect the people around them, who are usually women and children, from exposure to the High Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus (HPAI), which can be transmitted during the manual slaughter of an apparently healthy but infected bird that is not yet showing symptoms.

Sohair Abel Kader, National Consultant to the programme, commented: "We researched the fact that women and children were the categories most affected by Avian Flu in Egypt and found that traditional manual slaughter as practised in Egyptian homes is a main risk factor."

She added: "The scientific research conducted on this issue proved that containing the bird in a covered pot for a few minutes immediately after slaughter, specifically till the completion of death struggle, protects those who carry out the slaughter and others around them."

Abel Kader said the 10 steps recommended by the FAO programme require no special skills and are not costly, as every house has a Halla (pot) with cover, which is the main instrument needed for safe slaughter. She expressed optimism about the initial response to the campaign by Egyptian citizens.

For her part, Dr Amal Aleesaily, director of veterinary medicine in Minia, said: "The launch of the national campaign to raise awareness of safe poultry-slaughter as part of the FAO's ERP programme in November, as well as the campaign that the veterinary medicine department launched to educate people on ways to protect themselves from bird Flu, has greatly helped decrease bird Flu cases in the country. The 'safe slaughter' campaign has proved successful in Upper Egypt."

Safe slaughter of poultry inside a closed pot is an ideal practice combining simple implementation and effective protection.

The outreach campaign promotes simple but efficient steps to make manual bird-slaughter in household safer, using kitchen equipment available in every house (a Halla that can be covered and washed with soap and water).

The campaign’s outreach field staff is formed from Rural community health Care Workers (Raidat Reefiat) from the Ministry of Health and Population and the awareness campaign's professional veterinarians from both Extension Vets and Community Animal Health and Outreach (CAHO) Vets, from the General Organisation of Veterinary Services, representing the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation.

Initial reports from outreach field teams show a good response by the target population, with people increasingly accepting the idea and showing willingness to implement it.

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