Latvia declared itself an independent country in 1991. It is a parliamentary representative democratic republic with a multi-party regime and free elections on the basis of universal suffrage. Power is divided between the legislative, executive and judiciary branches of government. Legislative power is held by the unicameral parliament (Saeima) with its 100 deputies. The Saeima is elected for a four-year period by general elections. Elections are carried out according to proportional representation, with a political party needing at least 5% of the total vote to enter the Saeima. Non-citizens (about 16% of the population) are not entitled to vote in parliamentary or municipal elections. The President of Latvia is elected by the Saeima for a period of four years and can remain in office for a maximum of two consecutive terms. Although the President’s position is mainly ceremonial, he is head of the armed forces, can veto some parliamentary decisions and he exercises substantial authority in both domestic and foreign affairs. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and is the head of the executive branch of government. The Cabinet of Ministers is nominated by the Prime Minister and appointed by the parliament. At the height of the economic crisis in 2009 a political crisis emerged, with public protests calling for the resignation of the government and the President threatening the Saeima with dissolution. In 2011, after the dissolution of the 10th Saeima as a result of a referendum in which 94% of the voters (at a voter participation rate of 45%) supported the dissolution, elections for the current 11th Saeima were held in September. Voter turnout was 60% and five parties and associations of parties gained seats in parliament; the “Harmony Centre”, a political alliance of several centre-left parties, is the largest party in parliament and has 31 deputy seats.
The judiciary is independent of political influence, but is thought to be weak and inefficient due to long waiting periods for court hearings. An independent human rights organization, the Human Rights Bureau, is responsible for monitoring human rights issues.
All important legislation laws are enacted by parliament and come into force after having been officially announced by the President. The President has veto rights that allow her/him to send the law back to parliament for repeated discussions. This right is rarely used and to date has never been exercised in the case of any health-related law.
Since 2011 Latvia has been administratively divided into two levels: the central level (the state) and the 119 local governments (or municipalities), comprising 110 counties (or novadi) and 9 cities under state jurisdiction. Local government responsibilities in the health sector broadly include ensuring geographical access to health care services, promoting healthy lifestyles, restricting alcoholism, ensuring public order and safety and providing education and social services (old-age institutions, asylums for the homeless, homes for orphaned children, etc.).
Latvia became a member of the United Nations in December 1991 and joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in October 1998. In March 2004 Latvia became a full North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member, before joining the EU in May 2004, together with Estonia, Lithuania and seven other countries.
National Diagnostic Centre
The beginning of the National Diagnostic Centre dates back to the period of Latvian occupation by the Soviets, i.e. 1944 when the operation of the Republic Veterinary and Bacteriological Laboratory was renewed by the decision No.234 (November 14, 1944) issued by Latvian SSR People’s Commissariat of Agriculture.
According to the order No.42 (February 12, 1964) issued by the Ministry of Agricultural Production and Supply of the Latvian SSR, since March 12, 1964 the Republican Veterinary and Bacteriological Laboratory was renamed into the Republican Veterinary Laboratory.
The main tasks of the laboratory were set out according to the Standard Regulations of the Republican Veterinary Laboratory, approved by the Central Veterinary Board of the USSR Ministry of Agriculture on April 28, 1955, namely:
laboratorial and diagnostic investigations of animals, birds, blood, pathological material, fodder, water etc.;
development and approval of diagnosis for cases of diseases and deaths of animals, birds, fur animals, fish, bees; preparation of directions and conclusions with respect to disease prophylaxis and prevention, responsibility for the elimination of contagious animal diseases in the Republic;
methodical guidance and consulting of the territorial veterinary laboratories, assistance to veterinaries of kolkhozes and Soviet farms;
analysis of epizootic, parasitic, non-infectious diseases and ecological situation as well as performance analysis of preventive measures,
accounting and summarization of veterinary statistics, preparation of reports according to the institutional regulations;
Training and certification of specialists.
Upon restoration of Latvian State independence in 1991, according to the order No.108 (April 22, 1992) issued by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Latvia, the Republican Veterinary Laboratory was renamed into State Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Centre.According to the Regulations approved by the State Veterinary Department on January 3, 1992, the State Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Centre is the main republican diagnostic and methodical work centre of the State Veterinary Department.
The main tasks of the State Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Centre:
laboratorial and diagnostic investigations;
development and approval of diagnosis for cases of diseases and deaths of animals, birds, fur animals, fish, bees; preparation of instructions and conclusions for disease prevention and monitoring;
methodical guidance of the work and consulting on its implementation for territorial veterinary laboratories and meat plants as well as professional training and certification of specialists;
quality control of food products, imports and exports of cattle breeding, plant-growing, apicultural and fish farming products;
development, approbation and improvement of laboratory diagnostic methods, promotion of their introduction in the work of the territorial veterinary laboratories;
analysis of epizootic, parasitic and non-infectious diseases and ecological situation and performance of preventive measures, prognosis of disease spreading in the republic;
accounting and summarization of veterinary statistics, preparation of reports and documentation;
Popularisation of the latest achievements in veterinary medicine.
The Regulation of the Diagnostic Centre was approved by the State Veterinary Department on December 16, 1996. The status, tasks and rights of the Centre were not changed.
Due to coming into force of the Law on Veterinary Medicine on July 1, 2001, and activities of the Cabinet and ministries in the process of establishing concept of State administrative - territorial reform, as well as starting establishment operations of unified service for supervision of food movement, the name of State Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Centre was changed according to the Direction No.195 (29th June, 2001) issued by the State Veterinary Service 2001. Since July 1, 2001 State Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Centre became the State Veterinary Diagnostic Centre of Latvian Food and Veterinary Service.
Since January 1, 2006, as a result of optimization of interrelated functions of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health, laboratories of the State Veterinary Diagnostic Centre of Latvian Food and Veterinary Service were merged with the laboratories of the state agency under the Ministry of Health - "Public Health Agency”. It was beginning of the operation of the National Diagnostic Center (NDC).
Field of action of the former State Veterinary Diagnostic Centre of Latvian Food and Veterinary Service was extended. In addition to former laboratories of NDC: the Laboratory of Food and Environmental Investigations and the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, the Human Disease Diagnostic Laboratory began its action. Base of resources of National Diagnostic Centre as well as the unified strategy in the different areas of investigation allows using the saved means for ensuring of wider and more qualitative and effective operation.
The goal of NDC activities is to provide laboratory diagnostics, to help ensure human and animal health, animal welfare, measurements of environmental health risk factors and reliable and safe food movement.
The National Diagnostic Centre:
ensures the microbiological diagnosis of human diseases, investigations in focus of infectious disease as well as laboratory investigations related to environment and human health;
carries out testing of food products as well as hygienic investigations related with environment and food movement;
performs investigations of drinking water, bathing ground water and bathing water quality monitoring services;
provides animal disease diagnostics as well as laboratory investigations related to environment and movement of food, veterinary drugs, pharmaceutical products, animal feed and feed additives;
performs chemical and physic-chemical testing of packaging materials, perfumes and cosmetics, toys, atmosphere, air of indoor and the working area, as well as physical investigations of environment;
Provides conformity assessment and certification of fishery product processing companies and their production.
Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment BIOR
Address: Lejupes Street 3, Riga, LV-1076
Phone : +371 67620513, fax: +371 67620434
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Administration: weekdays 8:30 - 17:00 (We suggest to contact the specialist before a visit)
Laboratories: monday to thursday 8:30 - 16:00; on Fridays 8:30 - 15.00
For more information on regulatory departments and quality control laboratories’ contact details, please see the following links: 4.1 Government Contact List and 4.3 Laboratory and Quality Testing Company Contact List