The government wants to institute a new law that would see mass vaccinations for livestock, and potentially dogs, against any diseases that could be transmitted to humans.
At a conference in the capital yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced preparations for a new draft law on animal health that would institute regulations requiring farmers to get their livestock vaccinated.
Cambodia does not currently produce its own vaccines, however, and any immunisation program is up to the discretion of the farmer.
“Some animal diseases affect public health, so [the law] would require animals to get the vaccine [under penalty of] legal force to prevent infections for humans. Nowadays, whether farmers come to get vaccines or not is up to them,” said Sen Sovann, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Sovann was not forthcoming on many details of the draft law. He declined to comment on how the law would be implemented, what kind of fines or penalties nonabiding farmers could face, what vaccines would be covered or how expensive such a mass immunisation program would be.
The Agriculture Ministry currently offers free vaccinations to cattle via the Department of Animal Health and Production, but Sovann said under the draft law, pigs, dogs and poultry could be covered as well.
Some farmers welcomed the idea of a free, government-run vaccination scheme, which might see immunisations of livestock become more widespread.
“Vaccines for pigs, dogs and cattle only cost $1, but farmers do not want to go for vaccines,” said Srun Pov, president of the Cambodian Pig Raising Association.
“Farmers, think of the animals’ health, think of human health and also think of the profit healthy animals will give us, because they are growing well,” he said.
How a free immunisation program for livestock could be afforded remains an unanswered question, however.
According to the government, over the first nine months of this year, more than one million goats and cattle have been vaccinated for foot-and-mouth disease.