Q1. Tell us about you, your family and where you live?
I am a 1987 graduate of the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada and have been working in Jamaica ever since initially as a government veterinarian and then in private clinical practice since 1993. I have been a member of the Jamaica Veterinary Medical Association since graduation and served 5 years as Association Secretary and even longer as Public Relations officer. I remain an active member of the Executive.
Q2. What is your favourite food?
I like quite a variety of foods – can’t say there is a runaway favourite.
Q3. Do you have any favourite music?
I like a wide variety of popular music genres from Jamaican reggae to pop, rock, R&B/Hip Hop, country. I have been involved in radio and was known as the Chart Doctor hosting a weekly countdown show on a local radio station for 6 years, and still follow the charts today.
Q4. What is your favourite sport?
Athletics. I have always followed Jamaica’s track stars.
Q5. Tell us in a paragraph what your current veterinary position is.
I am in mixed private clinical practice in the town of May Pen in south central Jamaica. I deal with mostly companion animals but also cover farm animals and anything else that comes along. I am also a Local Veterinary Inspector for the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry responsible for Agriculture. I also chair the Board of Examiners for the Jamaica Veterinary Board.
Q6. What influenced you to become a veterinarian?
From childhood I have loved animals and in school my favourite subject was biology. My brother and uncle were physicians, which drew me towards medicine, but I was not comfortable with the human version – veterinary medicine was the natural choice, and I started working towards that goal from when I was in high school.
Q7. What do you enjoy most about being a veterinarian?
I enjoy the challenge and variety of dealing with multiple animal species along with the broad applications of the profession. It is extremely satisfying to feel one has made a difference in the life of an individual animal and by extension, its humans. Also, working in the area of One Health and demonstrating the importance of the contribution of veterinary medicine in the health sector is very satisfying.
Q8. What are some of the main challenges for you and your national veterinary association?
There are many:
• We are relatively few in number in Jamaica, compared to the population (<1:29,000) leading to lack of access to professional veterinary care for many, particularly in the livestock sector and in deep rural areas. Nevertheless, we have a cadre of motivated and capable young veterinarians who will keep the profession making its mark on the health of the country.
• Despite this, employment opportunities are few, while setting up a viable clinical practice in poorly served areas of the island is challenging. The Government does NOT provide clinical services for farmers. The Association has been in dialogue with the Ministry responsible for Agriculture regarding public-private partnerships in this regard.
• There is no longer Government support for the study of veterinary medicine at our regional veterinary school – subsidies were removed in 2016. The majority of potential students will not be able to afford the programme. The Association continues to advocate on behalf of students.
• The availability of veterinary drugs is limited by national drug registration policies and the small market size. There have been long-standing efforts to rationalize the process but with minimal progress.
• Outdated veterinary and animal-related legislation with an extremely slow legislative process: There has been much discussion and work done, but the latter has been the impediment to change.
• Improving animal welfare awareness and practice: Though there are many positive signs, there is a long way to go.
Q9. How do you communicate to your organisation about the CVA and its activities?
Via email and Whatsapp groups, via the JVMA website and verbally at General Meetings.
Q10. How do you think the CVA can assist you in your Councillor Role?
I think good communication is the key, along with any needed support in performing any actions required for the fulfilment of CVA objectives.