Veterinarians urged to play greater role in creating healthier environment

GINA, GUYANA, Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Veterinarians have been charged to play their role in promoting a healthy environment through the ‘One Health Initiative’.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Karen Cummings

Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Karen Cummings

Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, at the opening ceremony of the 29th Biennial Caribbean Medical Association Conference on Monday said the One Health initiative is an important one which recognises that the health of humans is directly connected to the health of animals and the environment.

The ceremony was convened at the Marriott hotel under the theme “New Horizons in veterinary medicine embracing one health, one medicine for a safer world”. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, performing the duties of President, Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, and President, Guyana Veterinary Association, Dr. Nicholas Waldron were among those present at the conference.

Minister Cummings explained that the One Health concept is a worldwide strategy for expanding interdisciplinary collaboration and communication in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment. She pointed out that “it is also strongly believed that the synergism achieved by the one health concept will advance health care for the 21st century and beyond.”

The Minister noted that Guyana is an active participant within the Caribbean’s “One Health, One Love” project, which is working to ensure CARICOM leaders understand and embrace the concept and support its implementation in the respective countries.

“The Government of Guyana signalled its commitment to the Caribbean’s One Health initiative and will provide the necessary support

Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder

Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder

needed through the relevant Ministries and organisations,” Minister Cummings stated.

The Minister reminded the veterinarians that they are responsible for reporting disease events and trends to the state public health and regulatory agencies. Dr. Cummings urged that they collaborate with medical officials, when necessary.

“These relationships would not exist if not for the link between animals and humans. Many factors contribute to the vulnerability of livestock; these include increase in intensity and concentration of production, agriculture, genetic conversions of many food producing species and accessibility of livestock to external biosecurity measures,” the Minister in the Ministry of Public Health pointed out.

Minster Cummings contended that setting up national action plans requires the collaboration of stakeholders from all relevant areas. A

common worldwide approach can bring about a lasting change.  She pointed out that the conference is timely, and will provide an opportunity and environment for Guyana’s leading veterinarians to exchange knowledge and experiences.

Meanwhile, Minister Holder stressed the need for more emphasis on animal health. The Minister said that as the population increases so too, will the demand for animal products.

“In a majority of countries, most public funding is given to the concern of human health with limited focus on animal health. This limited funding for animal health is one of the major factors in the control of the spread of diseases; therefore the duty is on you, the veterinarians, to champion this important cause of imbalance of resource allocation within your countries.”

President of the Guyana Veterinary Association, Dr. Nicholas Waldron

President of the Guyana Veterinary Association, Dr. Nicholas Waldron

The Minister pointed out that in many developing countries; infrastructure is lacking, to combat animal diseases. The lack of disease specialists and diagnostic laboratory facilities makes it difficult to protect the animals, therefore the veterinarians through animal services are responsible for protecting animal health, providing sound surveillance information on the occurrences of diseases within territories and conducting risk analysis, Minister Holder explained.

The Minister urged the veterinarians to make use of the conference and network with other participants for better protection of animals.

Fortune Sithole, a participant of the conference which ends on Thursday, described it as informative. Sithole is looking forward to working along with other participants to implement the One Health concept.

Meanwhile, Dr. Waldron encouraged the veterinarians to be innovative and play their role in their local associations. Dr. Waldron said the world is being plagued by multiple challenges including water shortages, increasing global population and climate change, therefore, veterinarians have to adapt and have an open mind to be more effective in promoting the One Health concept.


By: Ranetta La Fleur


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