What would tetracycline, sulfonamide, penicillin, aminoglycoside and micro-lead mean to an ordinary Nepali consumer? They do not make sense to many people, but for a few they would sound like the names of chemicals or something like that. But, for the poultry farmers, they are familiar names with the first three names referring to antibiotics. That the widesread use of antibiotics spells health hazards to the consumers is not unknown. Of course, research about the high use of antibiotics and hormones and the like when raising chickens and livestock has been revealed after the Central Food Laboratory (CFL) tested some 50 samples of chicken being sold in the Kathmandu valley and Chitwan, and, according to the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC), 10 of them were found to contain high levels of antibiotics. The rampant use of the antibiotics without the right medical supervision is what must be checked, taking into consideration the hazards they pose to human health and well-being. Alarming levels of antibiotic residues have been found in milk samples from urban areas across the country, raising concerns about the health of the general public. Even milk sample from Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Pokhara and Kavre revealed alarming levels of drugs. Antibiotics like pencillin and amoxycillin were detected.
Of course, drugs may have to be administered to the sick cows, buffaloes and chickens. But, the tests are definitive indications that more than the necessary use of antibiotics has been resorted to by dairy and poultry farmers for short term gains. The long term devastating impacts of such drug use in poultry and livestock are being neglected. The EU standard for antibiotic residue in milk is a permissible limit of 4 parts per billion, but tests revealed that it exceeded over 300ppb in the milk sold in the major towns of Nepal. The whole thing is that there is no standard for drug residue that is allowed for the in milk or chicken meat in Nepal. That is the reason why only monitoring is done but without action taken against the dairy and poultry farmers. This is, however, only about two items tested while there are a host of food items that are adulterated to the extreme limits. The consumers have not only to pay a high price for the adulterated food items, but they also are under constant threat from the harms that they will be doing to their health, both short-term as well as long term.
In all this, neither the consumers’ forum nor the government line agencies are doing their bit to control such levels of adulteration of edibles and also the high dosage of drugs administered regularly to poultry and livestock. There can be no two opinion that the farmers concerned are interested in cashing on the vulnerabilities of the consumers, while the middle men are only out to rake in their shares. The revelation of the high level of residue drugs in milk and chicken meat induces sleepless nights for the consumers. Strict standards must be set, regular monitoring of the market must be undertaken and severe action taken against the defaulters as measures to curb the widespread malpractices.
The viral fever outbreak is taking on serious dimensions. In Dailekh villages alone, at least six persons afflicted by the disease have died. The
sorry thing is that medical care is not reaching many of those who have viral fever. Over 450 persons
have the disease in two villages of the district. The health authorities, for all purposes, seem to be dilly-dallying and they are reaching the affected site after protracted delay. Many medical personnel supposed to be manning the health posts have been found absent, and the villagers have no one to turn to for immediate treatment. It is also reported that there is a shortage of medicines, not to talk about the health personnel.
This outbreak of viral fever had been predicted some time ago, and it is indeed unfortunate that the authorities did not take remedial measures on time to save precious human lives. The health authorities should always be ready to prevent such outbreaks in various parts of the country. The outbreak of the disease can be largely attributed to the incompetence and negligence of the health authorities.