Authorities in the Maldives are currently working with international parties including as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to try and prepare a national animal health act in the nation, a recently appointed veterinary expert working in the country has said.
Dr Jeewaranga Dharmawardane, a Sri Lankan veterinarian of some 30 years experience who came to the Maldives two months ago, told Minivan News that alongside tending to the nation’s beloved and not-so-beloved pets such as cats and birds, he is also helping to oversee new regulation in relation to national standards on keeping animals.
According to Dharmawardane, who now acts as a veterinarian for the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture, the draft bill will outline a legal framework for protecting and maintaining animal health that does not currently exist in the Maldives. The vet claimed that these laws could also form a part of wider overhauls to help the country meet its potential for agricultural production in the country both in terms of livestock as well as producing manure that can aid crop quality.
“In the times to com, imports to the country have to be reduced,“ he said. “The government hopes to be self sufficient [in terms of supplying its agricultural needs] by between 15 to 20 percent in the next two to three years.”
Dharmawardane said that the ministry is also looking to establish quarantine and monitoring services at Maldivian seaports for animals being bought in and transported around the country.
“It will possibly take a few months to establish this,” he said.
After decades of working in veterinary and research fields within the Sri Lankan civil service, Dharmawardane now works with the Maldivian Agricultural Ministry travelling consulting on animal health either in homes, or at the country’s small number of farms.
So far he said that he had visited “three to four islands” outside of Male’, but would travel where the ministry required him to visit.
The government veterinarian added that he “didn’t see many differences in the type of animals” that were being kept as between Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
“In the last two months Maldivians have contacted me in regards to problems within their pets, as well as concerns for goats and some on poultry,” he said.
“The types of animals have generally been quite conventional, except of course there are no dogs.”
Alongside his own experiences, Dharmawardane added that the ministry also employed a specialist microbiologist to provide laboratory assistance.
Dharmawardane said that he did not have a veterinary practice as of yet to deal with individual concerns on animal health, but worried Maldivian pet owners could contact the Ministry of Agriculture for further assistance or possible consultation on 3322625.