Paraguay: animal health leader steps down after FMD outbreak

By Melodie Michel

- Last updated on GMT

Paraguay: animal health leader steps down after FMD outbreak
Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo has replaced president of the food safety and animal health authority (SENACSA) Daniel Rojas, after questions emerged over his handling of the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak that struck the country in September.

New SENACSA president Félix Otazú Leguizamón said: “My institutional commitment, with the support of the private sector, is to get back the ‘free from FMD’ sanitary status with vaccination, to regain access to international markets.”​ He was named president of SENACSA by presidential legal counsellor Emilio Camacho on 24 January.

According to local press reports, Rojas’ FMD prevention strategy was questioned by producers, who said vaccination controls were “inefficient”​. FMD was detected in September 2011 in Paraguay, with a second outbreak in January 2012, leading to import bans from key markets such as Argentina, Chile and the EU.

At the beginning of January, Hugo Corrales who was president of SENACSA before Rojas, told local radio station 970 AM that Rojas had been warned the disease might return to the country, and should therefore “take his responsibilities and step down”​.

“SENACSA’s responsibility is to develop the sanitary policy and supervise the operations, consequently in this case it is also responsible for the sanitary disaster,”​ Corrales said.

Juan Néstor Núñez, president of Paraguay’s rural association (ARP), also asked for Rojas’ resignation following the outbreak, and encouraged the restructuring of SENACSA. He told 970 AM that the government had “made a fool of itself”​ by lifting the sanitary alert on 28 December 2011, five days before a second affected zone was discovered.

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