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State monopoly on vaccine supply threatens livestock production

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Vaccine shortages against Rift Valley Fever, Bluetongue and Horse Sickness can lead to a crisis in the livestock production industry. According to Francois Wilken, President of Free State Agriculture (FSA), the agricultural sector is increasingly struggling to gain timely access to sufficient vaccines.

“The state currently has a monopoly on the supply of vaccines, but the government is failing to make sufficient vaccines available on time. As a result, agricultural producers cannot keep up with their vaccination programs properly”.

According to the Onderstepoort Biological Products (the state supplier of vaccines) the reasons for the growing shortage of vaccines are attributable to: staff strikes, load shedding and a fault in their freeze dryer.

FSA is of the opinion that these problems at the OBP point to management and skills shortages. “The only solution” Wilken believes, “is that the private sector must be allowed to produce critical vaccines to prevent a crisis in the production of meat and animal products”.

“It is not in the national interest that the state should be entrusted with a monopoly on the country’s animal health. The private sector laboratories already have capacity and expertise and can produce critical vaccines very soon.”