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Min. of Ag.; Dr. Tufton Speaks on Global Vulnerabilities

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  • Min. of Ag.; Dr. Tufton Speaks on Global Vulnerabilities


    Ministry of Agriculture
    Country Must Develop Own Strategies to Address Global Vulnerabilities - Dr. Tufton

    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Christopher Tufton has emphasized that the country must position itself to develop its own strategies to address global vulnerabilities, such as the increasing threat to livestock and food security.

    Speaking at a meeting of the National Emergency Animal Disease Committee (NEADCOM), at the Ministry of Agriculture, today (April 28), Dr. Tufton pointed out that, "we are so interconnected as a global village, that developments in one corner of the world is almost certain to impact in varying degrees, our activities here in Jamaica."

    Dr. Tufton explained that the National Emergency Animal Disease Committee, of which he is Chairman, was formed to safeguard Jamaica from the spread of potential devastating exotic animal diseases, of which the country is currently free.

    Diseases such as the highly pathogenic avian influenza (bird flu), mad cow disease, classical swine fever, new castle disease and rabies continue to devastate the livestock subsector and weaken the socio-economic status of several countries across the globe, he told the gathering.

    Dr. Tufton said that since 1989, more than 183,000 cases of mad cow disease have been reported worldwide, resulting in the compulsory slaughter and disposal of several hundred thousand cattle. Similarly, between 2003 and 2008, some 381 cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza have been reported in humans, resulting in 240 deaths.

    According to the World Organization for Animal Health, the Minister outlined, approximately 75 per cent of emerging diseases are zoonotic (transmissible from animals to humans), with 60 per cent of diseases of humans being zoonotic, and 80 per cent of agents having a potential for bio-terrorist use, also being zoonotic.

    "In light of this situation, the Ministry continues to maintain strict import requirements for animals and products of animal origin and to implement the necessary emergency preparedness mechanism to safeguard the country from these devastating diseases," Dr. Tufton said.

    He pointed out that the Government, as part of its commitment to safeguard human and animal health, had included a sum of $15 million in the 2008/09 budget, specifically to deal with the threat of bird flu and other diseases. "All efforts will be made to safeguard the livestock industry and to enhance food safety and food security," the Minister emphasized.

    Dr. Tufton commended the committee members, who were committed to providing critical input to ensure that Jamaica was a lot more prepared in terms of monitoring and importantly, in responding to these diseases if they ever surfaced in the island.

    "There is ample evidence throughout the world, that it's a real threat, and therefore this committee has a lot of work to do and a lot of persons are depending on it, to ensure that we can provide the leadership that is required," he said.

    The meeting, which was led by Acting Director of the Veterinary Services Division, Dr. Osbil Watson, saw participation from representatives of the Ministry's Veterinary Services Division, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), the Jamaica Defence Force, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the Jamaica Fire Brigade, among other critical stakeholders.