Guyana strengthening capacity to prevent, respond to food-borne diseases

Guyana is focusing on food safety while strengthening its capability to prevent and respond to food-borne diseases.

The Ministry of Health and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on Monday engaged environmental health and surveillance officers for a two-day training in Integrated Food Borne Disease Surveillance and Food Safety.

Stakeholders involved in the training

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony said this is the right time for such training in Guyana.

“We want to make food safer in Guyana, and one of the things that we have to look at, look at the development that we are trying to do here, over the next three to four years, there will be at least six or more hotels that will be built in and around Georgetown… people who are coming here and utilising the services would want to ensure that what they are eating at these restaurants are safe,” Dr. Anthony said.

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony

He stressed the importance of ensuring the food people eat is safe.

“One of the things we have to look at, not just the result where somebody is getting it on the table, but we have to look at the continuum, from the farm, how are things being produced, what is that chain, how are we intervening throughout that chain and then ultimately, when it comes to the table, I think that’s really important,” the health minister said. 

Apart from bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause diseases, there are other factors such as pesticides and other contaminants that can affect the quality of food.

Dr. Lisa Indar, Director, Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control Division, CARPHA

The health minister also noted the importance of surveillance and an optimum response mechanism that addresses threats whenever they are detected in Guyana.

We need to know the numbers because without those numbers we cannot plan properly, with numbers we can see hotspots, and with hotspots we can know how to intervene, without that collecting of the data in a timely way we would not have any clue on what is going on and from time to time some of you would know that we do have outbreaks and sometimes when we detect those outbreaks it’s a little bit too late,”

Stakeholders involved in the training

Dr. Lisa Indar, Director of Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control Division, CARPHA noted that unsafe food remains one of the most common causes of illnesses worldwide.  It is a major cause of mortality and morbidity and is a major cause of illness in the Caribbean.

The training is a ‘train the trainers’ type that will see adequate coverage of the country.