By Charissa Luci-Atienza
A woman House leader is calling on the national government to study the possible long-term economic impact of the avian flu virus that is currently threatening the country’s multi-billion peso poultry industry.
Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez “Nene” Sato also called on concerned government agencies to prepare for a worst-case scenario should other deadly animal diseases threaten other agriculture sub-sectors like our swine and cattle industry.
“Prevention is better than cure. I laud the DA (Department of Agriculture) for quickly responding to the situation. However, we need to be more prepared for the worst-case scenario,” Sato, vice chairman of the House committee on economic affairs said following the reported avian flu outbreak in Pampanga.
Quoting Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda, she said following the outbreak, which placed Pampanga under a state of calamity, the potential losses to the poultry sector pegged at P2 billion.
Around 400,000 fowl would have to be put down because of the outbreak, reports said.
Sato said the economic impact, as well as budgetary requirements, if needed, must be determined to boost the capacity of concerned government agencies in dealing with the problem.
She urged the DA, particularly the Bureau of Animal Industries (BAI) and National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Department of Health (DOH) to come up with separate studies on the impact of the avian flu virus.
“We should also take a proactive approach to prevent other deadly animal diseases that may threaten other agriculture sub-sectors like our swine and cattle industry. Its impact to our industry stakeholders, particularly small farmers, and the consumers in general, must be known,” Sato said.
She urged the DOH to launch a massive information campaign on the avian flu virus to promote public health safety and ensure public welfare.
“We should be fully informed of threats to public health. What are the risks and who is the most vulnerable sector that should be protected?” she asked.
Sato, a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) also called on the NMIS to ensure that no chicken meat products would be sold in the market that may expose consumers to undue public health risks.
She also asked the DOST to come up with new studies and recommend solutions to the ongoing avian flu outbreak.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol has ordered the restriction of poultry products in the entire Luzon area, to prevent the spread of the virus.