- States global travel, trade could threaten health, safety of SL’s ecosystem
- Recommends strengthening physical, HR for disease surveillance at entry points
The Central Bank (CB) says the implementation of a coherent policy framework for surveillance and quarantine is essential to restrict future cross-border transmission of diseases to the country via movements of people and goods, as evidenced by the rapid escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With expanding travel and trade globally, Sri Lanka is exposed to cross-border transmission of diseases, which could affect people, animals and plants threatening the health and safety of the ecosystem of the country,” the CB highlighted in its annual report for the year 2019, released this week.
In particular, the CB pointed out that such a policy framework is a must for the country as it is becoming increasingly connected to the rest of the world via movements of people and goods.
Amidst recent outbreaks and pandemics such as COVID-19, SARS, MERS, Ebola, avian flu and swine flu, the report emphasised that there’s a crucial need for strong policy frameworks to strengthen the country’s health and safety practices, including surveillance and quarantining.
“Though Sri Lanka has made notable improvements in terms of controlling communicable diseases, increased global mobility of people has raised the possibility of recurrence of controlled communicable diseases,” the report stated.
It was recommended that the government must further strengthen the utilisation of physical and human resources for disease surveillance at entry points to the country, especially in view of the expected increase in tourist arrivals in future.
Further, it was noted that the spread of trans-boundary plant pests and diseases has increased significantly in recent years through the importation of plant material from other countries.
“Most destructive migrant pests, such as the Fall Army worm and fruit flies, cause substantial losses to crop cultivations, endangering the livelihoods of economically vulnerable farmers and the food and nutrition security of the country,” the report said.
However, it pointed out the inadequate quarantine regulations in granting clearance for vessels and cargo as well as warehouses could increase the incidence of pest and disease outbreaks in the country.
In addition, it was also noted that there is a wide range of diseases, such as the Bovine Viral Diarrhoea, transmitted through the livestock trade, especially through the importation of animal stocks for productivity enhancement and breeding purposes, endangering local breeds. “Such diseases can potentially jeopardise the entire livestock production of medium and small-scale farmers,” the CB added.
Therefore, the report reiterated that the country needs to strengthen its quarantine regulation framework in order to prevent the entry, establishment and spread of diseases, while safeguarding the overall system from health problems.
“Quarantine policies should be in accordance with the international standards of regulations to prevent cross-border transmissions of vectors,” the report stressed.