Department of Livestock Services (DLS) has intensified its experimental bird flu immunization programme in two districts vulnerable to bird flu as part of its preventive measure to protect the country's poultry industry from the fatal disease.
Under the immunization, DLS has given 6.83 million vaccines in a week to 177 poultry farms, officials said.
The cost per vaccine is Tk 4.5 both for day old chicks and matured birds, a higher official at the DLS said.
"The experimental vaccination programme is the first ever a poultry health experiment under public private partnership (PPP)", Asst Director, DLS Dr Md Ainul Haque said.
He said Breeders' Association Bangladesh (BAB), GoB and three local companies including ACI, Advanced Animal Health and Bengal Overseas are jointly initiating the experiment to be continued for six months.
"BAB is financing the programme while three private companies are importing the vaccines from three multinational companies and DLS is supervising the immunization," he said.
DLS has targeted to distribute 36.0 million vaccines during the experiment at 2250 farms in Gazipur district and Bajitpur Upazila under Kisoreganj district, he said.
In September last year, drug regulatory authority of Bangladesh allowed three local companies--- ACI, Bengal Overseas and Advanced Animal Health to import avian influenza vaccine from US-based Shiva, the Netherlands-based Intervet International BV and France-based Mariel.
DLS Director (Animal Health and Administration) Dr Musaddique Hossain told the FE that positive result from the experiment will decide the fate of the programme.
"We will spread the programme across the country only after getting positive feedback from the experiment," he said.
"The DLS will examine vaccinated poultry birds each week to confirm the effectiveness of the medicine and if any negative impact is detected it will take necessary steps immediately," he added.
President of Breeders' Association of Bangladesh (BAB) Md Mashiur Rahman said it is tough to evaluate anything now.
"We need at least two months more to get any result to say," he said.
He informed the FE that the technical team of the immunization programme formed with Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU), Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI) and DLS is monitoring the vaccination programme.
Many of the poultry farms also expressed their concern on the registration fee for a poultry farm saying it higher for small scale farm owners.
According to DLS, only registered poultry farms can get the vaccine.
Bangladesh Poultry Khamar Rokkha Jatiya Parishad secretary general Khandker Mohammad Mohsin said the registration criterion should be eased to fulfill the targeted farms.
He said many of the small scale farms, who were forced to cull their birds and now trying hard to start their business again, could not be able to pay the registration fee of nearly Tk 4500.
He urged the government to reduce the registration fee of a poultry farm for small and medium scale farmers already suffering from dire straits.
Meanwhile, the number of farms has come down to 70,000 from 150,000 over the last five years following the spread of bird flu, Bangladesh Poultry Industries' Association study revealed.
Poultry farmers repeatedly demanded that the authorities concerned allow vaccine against the flu as it spread epidemically in the country and destroyed millions of chickens in last six years.
Earlier, an expert committee was formed in June 2012 to make a study over introducing bird flu vaccine to minimise the avian influenza situation in the poultry farms across the country.
However, the livestock department has culled over 2.55 million chickens across the country after the first outbreak in Mar 22, 2007.