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Cablegate: Nigeria October 25 Avian Flu Update

VZCZCXRO9774
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHHM RUEHJO RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA
RUEHPB RUEHRN
DE RUEHUJA #2800/01 2981456
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251456Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7581
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RHFMISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 0032
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002800

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USDA FAS WASHDC FOR FAA/RANDY HAGER
USDA FOR APHIS/JOHN SHAW
USDA FOR WAYNE MOLSTAD/OSEC
USAID/W FOR AFR/WA ANGELA LOZANO
SECDEF FOR //USDP/ASD-HD//

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU TBIO AMED EAGR EAID NI AVIANFLU
SUBJECT: NIGERIA OCTOBER 25 AVIAN FLU UPDATE

REF: ABUJA 2777

ABUJA 00002800 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary. The Government of Nigeria's (GON) response to the
avian influenza (AI) remains limited but has demonstrated recent
improvement. Economic and USAID officers attended the October 18
United Nations/foreign donors AI meeting in Abuja and met with
representatives from the UN Development Program (UNDP), the UN Food
and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the UK Department for
International Development (DFID). A DFID officer commented Nigeria
so far had spent only $750,000 combating AI, despite much more money
being available. He noted the GON's lack of action on the issues of
compensation to poultry owners and poultry vaccinations. An FAO
official reported a new outbreak of AI in southern Nigeria's Anambra
State, which was diagnosed quickly and where the affected farm
underwent rapid culling. The Ministries of Agriculture and Health
recently have improved their cooperation against AI. End Summary.

Slow Processing of Donor Funds
------------------------------

2. (SBU) Peter Hawkins, DFID Officer, said there remained an
"unaccountable gap" between financial assistance made available to
the GON to combat AI and the amount Nigeria actually processed and
spent against the virus. (Note: The World Bank so far has
transferred $20 million to the GON for human/animal-health efforts
against AI. End note.) Hawkins said it took the GON four to five
months to complete the procedures needed to obtain the World Bank
credits - and that the GON still had spent no more than $750,000
against AI. He observed the World Bank was concerned by the failure
to use these funds and said the bank's Nigeria representative would
review in January 2007 whether money not used by Nigeria should
instead be reassigned to other countries. Hawkins also criticized
the GON's "policy vacuum" and lack of action on AI, especially in
the areas of compensation to poultry owners and in failing to
discuss whether to employ poultry vaccinations. (Note: The GON was
supposed to complete by the end of June 2006 its review of its
policy on compensation but has not yet done so. End note.)

New Outbreak in Ananbra
-----------------------

3. (SBU) Tim Obi, FAO Nigeria AI Task Force Chief, reported a new
outbreak of AI, in the Awka South Local Government Area in southern
Nigeria's Anambra State. At that farm, 255 birds out of 1,900 died
before the remainder were culled. Obi said an FAO-Ministry of
Agriculture team would visit Anambra to investigate the outbreak.
USAID officer Wayne Frank said later this outbreak appeared to be an
isolated case in which a neighbor's cockerel got into the commercial
flock in Anambra.

4. (U) Obi noted that the animal side of Nigeria's AI reporting and
surveillance system was working much better, as evinced by the
Anambra outbreak. The farm's owner reported poultry deaths on
October 9. A sample was sent to the Vom National Veterinary
Research Laboratory in Jos and on October 10 the sample was
confirmed as positive. This was reported to the state government
and to the farm's owner within 48 hours, at which point the flock
was culled. These actions demonstrated rapidity in sample
collection, transmission, and diagnosis. Obi also said the
outbreaks in Lagos and Ogun States appeared to be under control, and
that further testing would be carried out there to confirm this.

5. (U) Obi recommended that the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN)
step up efforts to educate its members about biosecurity. These
measures included registering all poultry farms, the steps needed
after culling and before restocking farms, and the dangers of
poultry feedbags' transmitting AI. Alberic Kakou, UNDP Resident
Coordinator, directed Obi to put the PAN in contact with the U.S.
Poultry Association to request that organization's assistance.
(Note: The PAN already enjoys close relations with the U.S. poultry
industry through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's
market-development programs. End note.)

Areas of Improvement
--------------------

ABUJA 00002800 002.2 OF 002

6. (U) USAID officer Wayne Frank later observed that the GON's
response to AI was improving overall. The Ministries of Agriculture
and Health were starting to work better together, both in their
professional relations and as demonstrated by the near completion of
Nigeria's joint AI response plan incorporating the GON's
animal/human-health response efforts. He noted also that the two
ministries demonstrated improved cooperation at recent meetings of
the GON's AI Technical Committee and AI Inter-Ministerial Steering
Committee.

Continuing Weaknesses
---------------------

7. (SBU) Frank noted also that many Nigerian poultry farmers still
awaited compensation and were extremely angry at this delay. He
said the minister of agriculture had not succeeded in getting funds
for compensation released quickly. The USAID officer observed that
the GON's new manual on compensation still needed some fine-tuning,
as well as official government approval.

Comment
-------

8. (SBU) Nigeria's access to international funding for use against
AI has outstripped for months its capacity to employ this, as well
as the GON's political will to do so. It remains to be seen whether
the World Bank's willingness to reallocate funding, once the GON has
been warned of this, will compel Nigeria to use substantial
financial resources against AI. On the positive side, Nigeria may
have turned a corner in its efforts against AI, and it appears the
GON is moving in the right direction, however slowly. The World
Bank's cancellation of AI funding, however, likely would undo much
of this recent improvement.

FUREY

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