KINGSTON — "This is a beautiful surprise," says an elated Dr. Suzan McLennon-Miguel, on being named the 2011 Civil Servant of the Year.
The Senior Veterinary Specialist in the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, walked away with the coveted title at the Jamaica Civil Service Long Service Award ceremony held on November 23 at King’s House. She was recognized for her work in Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety.
Visibly thrilled by the honour, Dr. McLennon-Miguel sees it as a sign of respect for her hard work and dedication over the years. “I feel very, very happy because I feel appreciated for what I do,” she tells JIS News.
With more than 20 years of service to the Agriculture Ministry, Dr. McLennon-Miguel has been instrumental to the country’s National Screwworm Eradication Programme.
She tells JIS News that she has been “working tirelessly for over two years, trying to put this out into the public to not only safeguard themselves in terms of food but also in terms of protecting themselves from getting infected from any screwworms.”
The National Screwworm Eradication Programme was officially launched in July 1998. Since March 2007, the Ministry has been employing a new approach in eradicating screwworms; an environmentally-friendly Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), where boxes are used to disperse sterile flies into the wild, as opposed to the chill fly system, which was previously used.
Through SIT, millions of sterile screwworm flies are released across the country each week. This system utilises pupae acquired from a plant in Mexico.
"I am happy that the information is getting out there and persons recognise the input of all the efforts that have been put towards the project. The late nights, the long hours, the many workshops (are worth it)," she continues.
She posits that the award is of significant importance as it recognises hard work within the Ministry and the public sector on a whole. “This award is not only for me, but for all the persons in the public sector because it means that our work is not going unrecognised,” she contends.
Dr. McLennon-Miguel joined the Ministry of Agriculture at age 19 and has been there ever since. She started as an animal health technician in the Veterinary Services Division in 1989 and “from that time, I have devoted my interest and my goals to continue in that (path).”
"I became a veterinarian in 2002 and then I decided that there needed to be more work in bridging the gap between human care and animal care, so I went and did public health so that I can merge both types of science," she informs.
Empowered with both disciplines, Dr. McLennon-Miguel believes she is better able to serve the public interest. “Whatever happens to animals we will also be affected by it so if we protect the animals and the environment, you will definitely protect what you eat and how you live,” she says.
The Veterinary Services Division oversees national health, animal status, and welfare through its various services offered island-wide. It operates a diagnostic laboratory service for the protection of the livestock industry; certifies the health of animals; is involved in the import/export inspection of live animals, meats and meat products; and it offers artificial insemination services for cattle, pigs and goats.
Dr. McLennon-Miguel was chosen from a group of 10 nominees drawn from various departments and agencies within the public sector.
Mr. Errol Burnett from the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce was the first runner up, while the second runner-up was L. Seaton Richards from the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
The other nominees were: Nelma Malcolm, and Rosellie Stewart from Post and Telecommunications; Devon Brown and Desmond Sinclair from the Social Development Commission (SDC); Dale Miller from the Department of Local Government; Beryl Bartley from the Ministry of Education; and Elizabeth Brown James from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter