Hardly three months after farmers in Gatsibo District lost goats in a botched immunisation exercise, those in neighbouring Nyagatare District have now lost 51 goats and 59 sheep, prompting authorities to clamp down on quacks.
Just like in the Gatsibo case, authorities are blaming the Nyagatare deaths on an unqualified veterinarian.
“He was not an accredited veterinary official and was paid almost Rwf250,000 as fees,” said Dr Fabrice Ndayisaba, who heads the Department of Animal Resources Research and Technology Transfer at the Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board in Nyagatare.
Authorities have established that the 110 goats and sheep out of some 124 animals died from an overdose of a concoction of Fluconix340 and Tylosine Super, which are used to treat fascioliasis (a parasitic infection) and bacterial infections respectively.
“Instead of injecting animals with 0.5cc of the drug mixture, the fake vet used 10cc that killed the animals instantly,” said Mr Ndayisaba.
Residents of Nkerenke village said that the “vet” in question had assisted the sector veterinary during a recent campaign but he had never vaccinated animals on his own.
The authorities also blamed farmers for allowing unaccredited personnel to vaccinate their animals.
“We do not know what led the farmer to vaccinate his animals without consulting the District veterinary or other accredited veterinaries in the area,” said Mr Fred Mufulukye, Governor of the Eastern province.
“The vaccination drive against small ruminant pests ended in mid-September, we didn’t expect farmers to conduct such mass vaccination for unknown disease without consulting experts.”
The incident happened after six goats out of 29,609 goats and sheep vaccinated on August 28 died in Akabagemu and Ryarugema villages in Gatsibo District’s Kiziguro sector, which officials blamed on unqualified veterinaries.
Without giving details, Marie Michelle Umuhoza, the spokesperson of RIB said that investigation are ongoing.
A recent crackdown on fakes including food, animal drugs and fertilisers impounded counterfeit animal medicines worth over Rwf30 million.
The six-day operation dubbed Usalama VI was conducted jointly by the Rwanda National Police, Rwanda Investigation Bureau, Food and Drugs Authority and Rwanda Standard Board from October 30 to November 4.
Some 46 people were arrested in connection with the incident.
A report on the operation notes that the Rwandan market is awash with fake drugs, placing farmers at risk of purchasing inferior and possibly hazardous products.
However, the extend to which fake drugs have infiltrated the market remains unclear since veterinary drugs are not firmly controlled and not all drugs on the market have been registered yet.
“We cannot categorically measure the magnitude of counterfeit animal drugs in the country since we haven’t registered all the drugs,” said Alex Gisagara, the head of Food and Drugs Inspections and Safety Monitoring at the FDA. “As a newly-established entity, we look forward to taking up the exercise in coming days.”