Consumers fear public health crisis as govt lifts poultry sale ban

Technicians of rapid response team culled the hens at a poultry farm in Kathmandu after outbreak of bird flu. Photo: Nepal Mountain Focus
Technicians of rapid response team culled the hens at a poultry farm in Kathmandu after outbreak of bird flu. Photo: Nepal Mountain Focus

KATHMANDU, Nepal- Consumer groups, general public and other concerned have criticized the government for its fresh decision to lift ban on the sale of poultry products in the face of reports from different districts on bird flu outbreak. Though the government is working to control the avian flu, it has gone uncontrolled forcing it to impose ban on distribution and sale of any poultry goods for a week.

With the date expired on Wednesday, the government lift the ban on the sale and distribution of poultry products from Thursday afternoon.

Experts and rights defenders say the government’s ad-hoc decision taken without the backing of any scientific research not only risks the domestic public health, but also puts the country in bad light in the international arena, which could have ramifications on the tourism sector.

Public health experts have been saying that the government’s “negligence” could lead to serious public health crisis in the country.

Besides these health and economic risks, Nepal has an obligation under international law—UN Convention on Economic Social and Cultural Rights—to ensure that food for public consumption is safe and “free from adverse substances.” Nepal is a party to the Convention since 1991.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) says that the government is at fault.

“If the government is worried about covering the loss in the poultry sector, it should compensate them,” says the NHRC.

The government seems to have put business interests above public health, says advocate and rights defender Mandira Sharma. “It is sheer negligence on the part of the government.”

Consumer rights activists have called for prompt investigations to guarantee that the move to lift the ban is safe.

Poultry farmers, on the other hand thanked the government for the decision. They have claimed that “a few outbreaks cannot justify a blanket ban on the entire industry.”

Meanwhile, as many as 25,000 chickens in eight poultry farms in Kathmandu Valley were found to be infected with the H5N1 virus on Thursday when the government is lifting the ban.

A total of 52 bird flu outbreaks—32 in Bhaktapur, 17 in Kathmandu, three in Lalitpur—have been confirmed ever since the first outbreak was found in Chabahil and Matatirtha on July 16.

Deputy director general of the department of livestock services, Ram Kumar Khatiwada, said they are working closely with health officials to make sure that no humans are infected with the virus.

He said that although the outbreak in Kathmandu Valley has taken epidemic proportions, they were successful in controlling the spread of the virus to other parts of the country during the week-long poultry ban in Kathmandu.


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