JIS News

Jamaica’s Avian Influenza/Bird Flu early detection and prevention mechanism has been boosted, with the donation of $30 million from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
The sum will be used to support the island’s surveillance and monitoring plan for domestic and migratory birds, improve laboratory capacities, test contingency plans, map migratory bird movement and poultry population, and strengthen the capacity to communicate on disease prevention and control with other regional members.
Minister of Agriculture and Land, Roger Clarke, who signed the grant agreement at his Hope Gardens office in Kingston yesterday (May 1), noted that the funding was timely, as the virus had already affected an estimated 200 million birds worldwide and was a real threat to the livelihood of hundreds of millions of livestock farmers and the commercial poultry industry.
He informed that discussions were ongoing with the Finance and Planning Ministry to put some level of compensation in place for the island’s poultry farmers in the event of an outbreak.
“It would be foolhardy not to put something in place and I am confident something will be put in place .Cabinet is aware of the kinds of problems we could face if compensation is not put in place,” the Agriculture Minister stated, adding that funding was also being sought from other multilateral lending agencies.
In his remarks, FAO Representative in Jamaica, Dr. Dunstan Campbell, said discussions were underway for a compensation package for Caribbean countries.
He explained that in designing the package, “we will have to distinguish between compensation and livelihood support, because there will be some small farmers, who depend on (farming) for their livelihood, so if you destroy all their birds in one shot and you pay them for the birds, you would have to think of what would be (the effect) on their livelihood as against if this were done in the commercial sector.” In the meantime, Dr. Campbell noted that the disease, if identified in a section of the island, could be prevented from spreading. “You can contain the disease, it depends on how quick you move,” he said.
The allocation to Jamaica is part of a US$2 million support project for countries in the Caribbean, Latin and South America, and is designed to strengthen surveillance and monitoring for the H5N1 virus, which causes Avian Flu, and mount emergency preparedness plans. The project, which will be implemented over an 18-month period, is part of a global initiative involving the FAO, the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization and other international partners.
The Agriculture Ministry, as part of its preparedness plans, has put in place import restrictions for birds as well as poultry and poultry products, improved its field surveillance activities, purchased diagnostic emergency field equipment and increased its public awareness activities.
The virus is now affecting poultry, humans and wild birds in Asia, Europe and Africa, with some 103 persons having died from the infection since March.

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