IAEA’s support to animal health services in Yemen
(1995 - 2009)

Background

The total land area of Yemen is approximately 555,000 Km2. The human population is around 22 millions with an annual growth rate of about 3.5% and livestock production is an integral component of most farming systems including those on irrigated land. The livestock population is more than 18 millions heads which includes cattle, sheep and goats and camels. Farmers in rain-fed areas subsist on mixed crop and livestock production and only use the rangeland seasonally. However, the livelihood of farmers with no cultivable land is exclusively dependent on livestock and rangeland grazing and buying-in of dry season fodder. Livestock and livestock products are an important source of human daily caloric intake and also serve as a ‘safety net’ in times of lower food production and other calamities, such as illness and death. Over 50% of the meat and meat products and a significant number of live animals are imported each year from the Horn of Africa.

Because of the importation of animals from the horn of Africa, where many diseases are endemic, this poses a serious problem for the authorities since Yemen is the main entrance for live animals to the Gulf region. For example, the emergence of Rift Valley Fever in Yemen in September 2000, leading to 145 human deaths and 20,000 abortions was the first time the disease was reported outside Africa. Moreover, human beings are also under the threat of the zoonoses such as Rift Valley Fever, Brucellosis, Tuberculosis, Rabies, Salmonellosis and other diseases, which can be transmitted from animals to people by direct contact with animal and birds or through consumption of contaminated products or through vectors. In addition, veterinary residues such as antibiotics, pesticides and other drug residues in animal products and the quality control of animal production inputs and outputs in general, are one of the major problems which face the livestock sector and needs urgent attention.

Projects

Since Yemen became a Member State of the IAEA in 1995, these issues have been a priority for Yemen to discuss with the Agency and to seek for the Agency support. Therefore, over the years, Yemen has been involved in several regional and national technical cooperation programmes in the field of animal health, which have allowed the veterinary services in the country to benefit from the technology transfer as one of the main goals of the IAEA to developing countries in the field of disease diagnosis using nuclear and nuclear related techniques. With the coordination of National Atomic Energy Commission (NATEC) several projects were implemented in the period 1995 – 2009:

Achievements

IAEA’s support to animal health services in Yemen (1995 - 2009)

Conclusion

Contact with IAEA is very important particularly at the stage we have reached with regard to the building of a new level 2 and high security laboratories from national funds and the needs to improve quality control, quality assurance and laboratory management practices. We are at a most critical stage having made good progress up to the point where considerable national funds were allocated for building the new CVL facilities which will allow diagnostic facilities and where we can handle highly infectious pathogens such as RVF and FMD in a safe environment. The equipment and reagents supplied so far have been critical to the use of the laboratory in the control programmes in Yemen. In a way they have centred more on emergency responses rather than prophylactic measures or data from surveys indicating the foci of disease. This epidemiological knowledge from both well-planned surveys and from tools such as the PCR as well as serological tests is vital to allow better planning in the mid- to long-term. We are now at a sage where there is recognition of the importance of livestock diseases as a major drawback to development in terms of production losses as well as in quality assurance issues threatening the health of the human population. There is also a need to develop the research potential of Yemeni scientists who are keen to learn research method and peruse research interests in the context of disease control. The laboratory developments would facilitate this and plans should be made to produce a course on research methods to allow the progression of scientists to post graduate (PhD) levels. In the future our needs will be in the field of lab management skills, bio-safety and bio-security and quality assurance skills and research transfer skills through the expertise and training and information exchange.