BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, November 28, 2023 (SKNIS) – In a significant move to transform St. Kitts and Nevis into a Sustainable Island State, the Government, through its Ministries of Health and Agriculture, has partnered with the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM). This collaboration is geared towards creating healthier living environments, aligning with the World Health Organization’s ‘One Health’ initiative.
The collaboration was formalized with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the One Health initiative. Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew signed on behalf of the Ministry of Health, the Honourable Samal Duggins represented the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Dean of Ross University, Dr. Sean Callanan, also participated. The signing ceremony took place on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, at the Ministry of Agriculture’s Conference Room in Port Zante, Basseterre.
This initiative advocates for an integrated approach to ensuring the well-being of people, animals, and the environment, encouraging cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary collaboration for sustainable solutions.
Prime Minister Dr. Drew, in his brief remarks, fully endorsed the One Health initiative, expressing his support both as the Minister of Health and from his professional perspective as a medical doctor.
“I stand with immense pride and joy as we witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that marks yet another milestone in the enduring partnership between Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Prime Minister Dr. Drew. “In particular, today we celebrate the partnership with our Ministries of Agriculture and Health. In the realm of global health, the concept of One Health is not merely a theoretical framework, it is a guiding principle that recognizes the intricate web connecting human health, animal well-being and our shared environment. As a medical doctor and minister of health, I appreciate the profound significance of this holistic approach,” Prime Minister Dr. Drew, “ the prime minister added.
For the past decade, the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) has been evolving and enhancing its One Health agenda via research. Central to the university’s veterinary curriculum, the One Health approach emphasizes the improvement of both human and animal health and serves as the cornerstone of its veterinarian training and research initiatives.
Dr. Callanan said the signing of the MOU on One Health is a win-win situation for all involved, particularly as it relates to capacity building.
“It’s important to build capacity everywhere. Every country is unique. The collection of countries together make a unique scenario. The Caribbean is not Europe, the US or Canada. It is a very unique environment and so it’s very important that we understand that environment, and work together to make it bigger, to make it better and to make it more quality, and I think that is the framework and background of this MOU,” Dean Callanan stated.
Meanwhile, the Honourable Samal Duggins commended Ross University for its continued partnership with the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, and in particular with the Ministry of Agriculture.
“The collaboration that [Ross University] has established with even my own ministry, the Ministry of Agriculture, where you have really stood behind a number of projects that we are embarking on like the Small Ruminant Breeding project, the Cattle Cross Breeding project on Nevis and one that I’m totally excited about is the backing of even more scholarships for our people, and again driving our expertise even higher,” said Minister Duggins.
One Health requires collaboration among human, animal, and environmental health partners. Government officials, researchers and workers across sectors at the local, national, regional and global levels should implement joint responses to health threats. This includes developing shared databases and surveillance across different sectors, and identifying new solutions that address the root causes and links between risks and impacts.