GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Caribbean Animal Health Network (CaribVET) forum recently held its annual meeting.
“CaribVET continues to work in earnest with its partners to safeguard the animal and veterinary public health of the Caribbean region,” affirmed Dr. Kathian Hackshaw, Chair of the Steering Committee of CaribVET, at the network’s annual meeting held from April 4-6 in Grenada.
In her opening remarks, she highlighted the strong link between animal health and international trade, saying that CaribVET is highly committed to contributing to the development of a safe, prosperous and healthy region.
Recently CaribVET has experienced a marked increase in the demand for its services and the provision of technical assistance due to the threat of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza to the regional poultry producers and the stability of the poultry industry. The topics discussed during the Meeting included the finalization of prevention and control management strategies for Avian Influenza. CaribVET’s preparedness strategy was evaluated during the Meeting by USDA experts who offered advice on how it could be further strengthened prior to application by the veterinary services, Ministries of Agriculture, the private sector and other stakeholders throughout the Caribbean region.
Additionally, plans to strengthen the human resources and coordination capacity of the Secretariat in the CIRAD Office in Guadeloupe, so that it is able to more effectively fulfill the mandate of CaribVET throughout the region were discussed at the meeting. According to Dr. Jennifer Pradel CaribVET’s Coordinator, “CaribVET funding partners successfully coordinated their resources from several flagship European projects implemented in the Caribbean to meet the demand for its services: FP7/Epigenesis project coordinated by CIRAD; 10th EDF Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Program coordinated by IICA and the ACP “One Health, One Caribbean, One Love” Project coordinated by UWI”.
During the Meeting, the collaboration between the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) and CaribVET was discussed. “We are expected to work closely on a number of areas, such as the development of databases and disease emergency preparedness plans” indicated Dr. Gavin Peters, animal health officer at CAHFSA. “These collaborative efforts are intended to make better and efficient use of the resources available in the region for those developments of our Animal Health systems” he added.
Dr. Bowen Louison, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) of Grenada and chairman of the CARICOM CVOs reiterated that “all recommendations coming from the deliberations of CaribVET Steering Committee are forwarded to the CARICOM Chief Veterinary Officers meeting. It is through that body that all issues related to the work and relevance of CaribVET is presented to the COTED (Council for Trade and Economic Development) one of the highest decision making bodies of CARICOM. We will continue to fully support the work of CaribVET”.
“CaribVET will also continue to work diligently to improve communication with several of its key target audiences – veterinarians, Ministries of Agriculture, stakeholders and the public – so as to achieve a greater awareness and visibility of its work throughout the region”, emphasized Dr. Hackshaw.
CaribVET is a collaborative network involving veterinary services in 33 Caribbean countries and territories as well as veterinary services laboratories, research institutes (CIRAD, CENSA), veterinary faculties (UWI-SVM; University of Guyana), CARICOM Secretariat and regional (CAHFSA, IICA, USDA) and international organizations (OIE, FAO, PAHO/WHO).
CaribVET met with its chief veterinary officers, partners and regional stakeholdersduring two intensive days to review the activities and results of the network and develop recommendations and a work plan for the upcoming year.
St. Maarten was represented at this meeting by Mervyn Butcher of the Section responsible for Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries from the Inspectorate of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunications. Butcher said based on the recommendations that came out of the meeting, Sint Maarten would seek to move towards greater compliance in norms and standards with respect to animal health and movement, adding that the country has to do its part in containing animal pests and diseases.
PHOTO CUTLINE: Group photo of the attendees.