DUSHANBE, March 2, 2011, Asia-Plus - | The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports about dramatic decline in brucellosis in Tajikistan.

This serious decrease is being hailed as the first major victory of the recently privatized national animal health service, the UN News Center reports.

“Government services in this former Soviet republic all but collapsed during a civil war in the 1990s and by 2004 brucellosis infected 8.5 percent of the country''s vast sheep and goat herds. Meat and dairy production declined and people who caught the disease from consuming unpasteurized milk and cheese became debilitated with chronic fevers, muscle pains and weakness,” the UN News Center’s press release says. “The situation has turned around, with disease rates now around 2.5 percent, thanks to a nationwide campaign that marshalled the country''s veterinarians into a Tajikistan Veterinary Association, now with 1 000 dues-paying members, upgraded their skills and developed a network of veterinary drug stores and small clinics. From there, 1.7 million animals were vaccinated.”

Although the initial emergency phase of the campaign was subsidized by the European Union and Sweden through FAO projects, the key to sustainable privatization was the decision to phase out subsidies, the release says.

Now farmers pay for every vaccination in full, a big change in thinking after decades of free medical care under the communist system.