Guyana celebrates FMD clearance
`A victory for the region of the Americas' - PAHO/WHO Representative

by Amanda Wilson
Guyana Chronicle
June 9, 2001

GUYANA yesterday celebrated its international certification against the dreaded Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) with the PAHO/WHO Representative here declaring it was a victory for the region of the Americas.

The cattle industry in several developed countries has been hard hit by the disease but Guyana, after years of hard work, has been formally declared free of FMD.

In honour of the achievement, the Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock yesterday hosted a reception at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel in Georgetown at which President Bharrat Jagdeo was presented with the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (Office International des Epizooties) (OIE) certificate.

OIE is the international body recognised by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Guyana was on May 31 officially declared free against FMD at the OIE forum held in France.

Dr. Steve Surujbally, Technical Advisor within the ministry was Guyana's representative at the forum.

President Jagdeo yesterday said the international certification against FMD is important to Guyana's cattle sector and urged farmers and other agencies to aggressively move towards scientific and productive methods of beef production.

"The way we do cattle rearing and beef rearing leaves much to be desired. We have a lot of work to do in this regard. We still have not done it on a scientific basis", he said.

He added, "we need to quickly put it (cattle rearing and meat production) on a scientific basis because we'll be competing with countries that have achieved a high level of productivity in this area".

Mr. Jagdeo said Guyana has the potential for large scale cattle ranching but those involved in the sector have to aggressively promote investments.

The President said the certification opens "new doors" internationally but there are still areas that need attention within the sector.

He listed the establishment of an abattoir in accordance with international standards as one of the necessities and urged the ministry to focus on all areas within the cattle sector.

The President also congratulated everyone who contributed towards the venture and noted that it was a manifestation of their efforts.

Dr. Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, Pan-American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) representative, said that by obtaining the affirmation against FMD, Guyana has now joined Chile, Uruguay and Argentina.

She added that PAHO's FMD Centre in Brazil has a high degree of technical and scientific specialisation and serves as a reference centre for laboratory and field work and animal diseases.

Theodore-Gandi said PAHO is committed to working with the government by providing technical support in maintaining its status.

"We will continue working through our technical reference centre to ensure that the technical capacity is maintained to provide the quality surveillance and facilitate border meetings with Guyana's neighbours on technical issues with respect to surveillance", the PAHO/WHO representative stressed.

She called the certification a victory for the region of the Americas.

Fisheries, Crops and Livestock Minister, Mr. Satyadeow Sawh noted that a national effort is needed for Guyana to maintain its standing against FMD.

Ms. Veronica Burnham, Acting Chief Veterinary Officer and Permanent Secretary, Mr. Bhowan Balkarran also made brief addresses at the reception.

The function was also attended by Prime Minister Sam Hinds, senior ministry officials, members of the private sector and the diplomatic corps and farmers.