Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI), in collaboration with its technical partner, Merial Sas, on Monday supplied 420 doses of vaccines worth 350,000 US dollars (about P2.6 million) to Egypt to help in the fight against Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) that hit at the beginning of 2012.
Ministry of Agriculture Public Relations Manager, Boikhutso Rabasha, said that the medicine was the first batch of 1,1 million doses that has been blended , which will be followed by 300 000 to be dispatched to Libya and the balance of 350 thousand doses to Gaza strip in May.
On whether this was the institution’s first sale to Arab countries, she said that they have first sold to Saudi Arabia in 2000, but added that at that time BVI did not have as much capacity as it does now.
Rabasha said that this development is very exciting as it shows that the institution has earned recognition not only in its traditional market of SADC but as well as far away countries such as Egypt and Libya.
“This demonstrates that the institution has grown to be recognised outside SADC and it is very encouraging and our hope is that it will continue to grow even further,” she said.
To achieve this, she explained the state assisted institution has invested heavily on the state of the art equipment as well as on manpower.
The institution was first established to provide for local market only in a country prone to outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease.
Currently, in some districts, the cattle population in the country is getting regular vaccinations against the disease.
A press release from BVI noted that field investigations carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organisation experts has observed that the outbreak was caused by an entirely new virus strain of SAT 2, which is different from that which has been circulating in the country for some years.
It further said that the outbreak has been confirmed by FAO world reference Laboratory in Pirbright, United Kingdom.
The virus threatens to spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East and has already been detected in Gaza strip, causing concerns of food security in the region.