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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 

19th April
Caribbean Bird Flu Watch
By Godfrey Eneas

There is much concern about the potential outbreak of Bird Flu in the Caribbean. As a result of the recent meeting in Trinidad and Tobago on this issue, observers in the region have been expressing their views on the state of preparedness by regional governments.

In the Bird Flu Watch, comments from professionals and agribusiness people in the region will be quoted from FAO- Carib-Agri, which is a service provided by the FAO Sub-Regional Office in Barbados.

Preparedness

Comment 1

1. With respect to the preparedness of the Caribbean sub-region: Yes the Caribbean sub-region is unprepared to deal with a full outbreak of avian influenza and HPAI. But this was exactly the purpose of the joint meetings held in Trinidad last week, 03-07 April 2006. The meeting objectives, inter alia, were:

l To review the extent of preparedness for, and identify challenges/ constraints to the implementation of successful AI prevention, control and surveillance programs at the national and regional levels.

l To assess and promote regulatory controls in support of effective prevention and control of AI at the national and regional levels.

 To identify technical and financial resource requirements for successful implementation of national and regional animal disease programs.

At the meeting, participants were informed of the project proposal under the GF-TAD initiative of OIE and FAO, in collaboration with WHO for assistance to the Caribbean sub-region for the prevention and control of AI. This assistance focuses on training on laboratory diagnostics, in epidemiology and on surveillance as well as on ecology and surveillance of wildlife. Additionally, there were discussions by the OIE on specific modalities for the assessment of veterinary services in the Caribbean.

2. On the other issue of compensation to producers: at the same Trinidad meeting, there were discussions on compensation to farmers. There were proposals to initiate discussions on a model CARICOM Compensation Plan by end July 2006, with support of the Caribbean Poultry Producers Association (CPA) for development of a payment and financing schedule.

It was also recognized that there needed to be review/update of relevant legislation for compensation in disease control programs by countries. The issue of compensation was recognized as a global one to the extent that the OIE regional commission meeting in November 2006 will have this on their agenda for discussion.

G V Pollard

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean
Comment 2

Just to let everyone know that during the week 03-06 April 2006, there was a meeting of Caribbean veterinarians in Trinidad to discuss national and regional preparedness for Avian Influenza. The general impression, which I got from the meeting, is that there is a high level of unpreparedness both at the level of Government and the private sector.

The authorities in the US & Canada believe that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) caused by H5N1 will arrive in North America later in 2006. If that happens, we can expect the virus to be in the Caribbean early in 2007, which is the year of the Cricket World Cup.

The recent outbreak of aspergillosis in Trinidad has had a dramatic impact on the industry both in terms of price and consumption. The arrival of HPAI anywhere in the Caribbean could decimate the industry and cause malnutrition. Poultry products still constitute the major source of animal protein (up to 82% in some countries) in our Caribbean diets.

Dr. Desmond Ali, Food Scientist, Trinidad and Tobago

The Bahama Journal - Bahamas News Online Edition
Copyright Jones Communications Ltd. ©2005 - Nassau, Bahamas.

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