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April 7, 2004

 

 

Malaysia's Sarawak And Sabah To Be Recognized As FMD Free
 

Sarawak and Sabah may get international recognition as food-and-mouth disease free States by the middle of next month or early June and thus be able to command premium prices from exports of animal-related products.

 

If they were to receive it from the Paris-based Office International Des Epizooties (OIE), they will be the first two States in the country to do so.

 

OIE, an intergovernmental organisation, was set up in 1924 with the primary aim of informing governments on the occurrence, spread and control of animal diseases worldwide.

 

As of last month, 166 countries have signed up as members.

 

Sarawak Environment and Public Health Assistant Minister Datuk David Teng Lung Chi said today the valuation process had now reached the final stage, which was the objection phase.

 

"Our application is now being put up (by OIE) for objection, if any, from member countries.

 

"If there is no objection, then the status would be accorded to us as early as the middle of May," he said after opening a one-day public forum on Importance of Plant and Animal Quarantine in Safeguarding Plant, Animal and Human Health at a hotel here.

 

State Agriculture Department senior assistant director (veterinary) Dr Francis Sia said the foot-and-mouth disease could have such a devastating effect that when it struck, not only the agriculture sector but the economy of the country, especially the tourism industry, would be affected as well.

 

"That is why exports from countries without such disease can fetch a premium price," Dr Sia said.

 

On the application to OIE, Dr Sia said two approaches were used to gather all the facts to prepare a report and make the application.

 

The first approach involved random sampling to collect blood samples of various types of animals from farms in the State.

 

"In all, we (Sarawak) collected about 9,000 blood samples and sent them to an accredited laboratory in Kota Baru. That is the reference laboratory for foot-and-mouth disease in Malaysia," he said.

 

The second approach involved sending officers to farms in various parts of the State to conduct monthly surveillance to look out for clinical signs of the disease.

 

He also said the two States had never been affected by the disease.

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