Meeting addresses animal and veterinary health issues within the region

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Stakeholders in the field of veterinary medicine are meeting here this week to look at common issues of concern affecting the health of livestock within the region.
This is the primary focus of the 13th meeting of the Caribbean Animal Health Network, also known as CaribVet, and the Caricom Chief Veterinary Officers Meetings which opened on Monday at the St. James’s Club.
CaribVET is a collaborative network involving 33 veterinary services in the Caribbean as well as veterinary services laboratories, research institutes and international organisations.
Chief Veterinary Officer of St. Lucia, Dr Auria King-Cenac, said that during the four-day meeting, stakeholder representatives will discuss and share information on the current situation with priority diseases in the region and possible solutions to tackling them.
“With the limited resources that we have, it is difficult for us to do it on our own so we see the need for us to work together as a region to help us mitigate against the entrance of exotic diseases,” King-Cenac said.
She said through the discussions annually, it is evident that the challenges are similar and the only way forward is through collaboration, putting resources together to strengthen the animal health service that exists within the region.
Dr King-Cenac, who also serves as chairperson of the CaribVet steering committee, also pointed out that during the next few days, the regional partners will also be assisting CaribVet with putting together its legal status – establishing the network legally within the region and gaining recognition internationally.
 “We will also be helping our member states to develop capacity in terms of disaster risks mitigation. Last year we were plagued by quite a bit of natural disasters and we have a number of colleagues to give us their input as to what transpired and how they were able to overcome it,” the regional official said.
 Dr. Tubal Edwards, the chief veterinary officer of Antigua and Barbuda, described the meeting as timely.
“This meeting is going to play such a pivotal role in that, it will propel us in the future of veterinary medicine. We are going  to discuss the issues using Antigua and Barbuda as the focal point and how we can protect our borders,” Dr. Edwards explained.
As it relates to health issues affecting livestock in the country, the chief veterinary officer stated that due to the fact that the island is relatively dry we are not affected by a lot of diseases.
He said, however, there are a lot of pests affecting animals, chief among them, ticks, a well-known external parasite.
“Those are the ones that are basically affecting livestock right now. They are more prevalent, especially in these dry conditions,” Dr Edwards said.

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