Agreement signed with FAO, World Bank to facilitate ‘One Health’ assessments

The Health Ministry on Monday signed an agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA) and the World Bank to facilitate the updating of the Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) assessment.

This forms part of the ‘One Health’ agenda, to promote the highest international food standard through the integration and advancement of Guyana’s food chain.

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony

Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony said an integrated and cohesive approach is necessary to facilitate optimal health outcomes.

“The ‘one health’ agenda has been around for some time, but it has taken a while for countries to first do the assessment and then transition to subsistence. With this assessment, we’ll have a clearer idea of some of the things we will need going forward over the next few years, and our objective is to help to implement this,” he said.

The minister also noted that the assessments will help to prepare for any future pandemics.

“We know that if we are to be prepared for future pandemics, we will have to put in place early warning systems and systems that can easily detect emerging infections. And so, this new system that we are focusing on would help us to be able to do that in a very timely way,” Dr Anthony maintained.

Some US$1 million in grant funding from the World Bank has been allocated to update these assessments.

Advisor to the Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, emphasised the need for an updated PVS, as the last one was released in 2008.

Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy

He said that“The FAO and the World Bank have worked together to craft a modern, contemporary PVS and Guyana will benefit from this.”

Surveillance systems, Dr Ramsammy noted, are being extended to include non-clinical components, especially zoonotic diseases, as these are one of the basic issues included in the ‘one health’ concept.

“In many ways, the recent COVID-19 pandemic resulted from the zoonotic disease. It is not the only one. Some of the neglected tropical diseases that Guyana is now set to eliminate have a zoonotic origin. It is for that reason that the zoonotic lab and the zoonotic surveillance system are critical. A public health veterinary service assessment, evaluation, and strengthening are critical to this component,”the advisor noted.

FAO representative to Guyana Dr Gillian Smith said that the ‘one health’ process is important to the future of the country and its food systems.

“We expect this work to move very quickly. We’re also looking forward to the integration of this work with the rest of the one health assessments and the integrated management process,” she said.

The ‘one health’ programme is a global initiative meant to achieve optimal health outcomes through the recognition of the interconnectivity between people, animals, and plants within their shared environment.