BVA welcomes Omagh office retention

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The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Veterinary Association Northern Ireland Branch have welcomed the decision of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) to retain a Veterinary Diagnostic Unit in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

The Omagh laboratory, which plays a key role in animal disease prevention, detection and monitoring in Northern Ireland, had been considered for closure as a result of the financial pressures facing DARD and AFBI, in line with a scale-back of surveillance facilities across the UK.

Simon Doherty, President of BVA Northern Ireland Branch, said: “The Omagh facility is of paramount importance. Without it vast areas to the west of the province would be left without effective surveillance.

“BVA (NI) and NIVA recognise the budgetary pressures across DARD and AFBI. However, as veterinary associations, our high-level concerns are in maintaining adequate levels of disease surveillance and investigation, diagnostic services to support a local industry with a huge export market, food safety, and the ability to protect the interests of that industry in an emergency response situation, should an epizootic disease outbreak occur.”

John Blackwell, President of the British Veterinary Association, added: “We welcome the decision to retain this vital laboratory. Maintaining adequate levels of disease surveillance and investigation, is the only way to ensure that vets’ are able to carry out their critical work in animal disease prevention.

“The whole industry and wider society benefits by being in a state of readiness and preparedness for an epizootic outbreak underpinning both animal and public health.”