By Ginika Okoye
Abuja – The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), has appealed to the Federal Government to include pastoralists in its health programmes to avoid transfer of diseases from humans to animals.
The National Secretary of the association, Alhaji Baba Ngelzarma, made the appeal while speaking with newsmen in Abuja on Thursday.
Ngelzarma who expressed regret over the neglect of the livestock sector, said that pastoralists were not usually considered while designing government health programmes.
The national secretary said that the population of pastoralists and herdsmen across the country was over 30 million and should not be neglected in any government programme.
“Pastoralists do not benefit from government health programmes. Today, if they are sick, they only go to the patent medical stores in nearby communities to get treated.
“They and their families are not captured in the immunisation, maternal health and meningitis programme.
“When people are designing these government health programmes, they do not put pastoralists’ into consideration, and this is the easiest way to transfer diseases from humans to animals because they move from one place to another,’’ he said.
The MACABAN scribe called on the government to collaborate with the association to sensitise and educate pastoralists across the country to reduce vices among them.
According to him, the value chain in the livestock industry is contributing immensely to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The national secretary said that some members of the association were victims of the insurgency in the North-East, with more than two million cattle lost to the crisis.
Ngelzarma however said some of the herdsmen have been included in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) programme of the Federal Government.
He said that the group was compiling information on members affected by the Boko Haram crisis, which it would forward to the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative.
Ngelzerma appealed to government at all levels to accord maximum attention to the livestock sector to encourage them.