Plan to fight foodborne diseases to be developed

GINA, GUYANA, Monday, October 24, 2016

A four-day workshop for health care providers to develop an action plan to fight against foodborne illnesses and diseases opened today, at Regency Suites, Georgetown. It is being hosted by the Pan American Health Organisation/ World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO).

Participants include staff of the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department, the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Agriculture. The workshop aims to sensitise participants on the prevalence of food borne diseases and how these sectors, through collaboration, could identify the priorities for surveillance and determine the resources required to achieve these goals.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Hon. Dr. Karen Cumming

Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Hon. Dr. Karen Cumming

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, said that governments around the world must ensure that their citizens have access to safe, nutritious food and the best quality health care possible.

“Food surveillance is a data driven exercise and requires the establishment of a dedicated multi-disciplinary surveillance unit involving epidemiological and microbiological expertise from all sectors that can facilitate this type of coherent data analysis and feedback,” the minister said, adding that, “ We must increase our capacity to conduct foodborne disease surveillance in Guyana in an effective manner.”

Applauding PAHO/WHO for hosting the workshop, the minister said that cost-efficient ways to monitor food contamination and establish effective surveillance of food-borne diseases must be found.

She said this would need a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach that involves the participation of stakeholders from all sectors of the “farm-to-fork” continuum, including the public health sector.

Country representative of PAHO/WHO, Dr. William Adu-Krow, highlighted the effects of having an action plan against foodborne illnesses.

PAHO/WHO country representative Dr. William Adu-Krow

PAHO/WHO country representative Dr. William Adu-Krow

He made reference to a number of countries that have banned the importation of food items that poses a threat to the country’s food safety. “As part of PAHO/WHO, we are taking a stand with how we will be dealing with food safety,” Dr. Adu-Krow said.

Many surveillance systems are used to provide information on the occurrence of foodborne and waterborne diseases. Most Centres for Disease Control and prevention (CDC’s) surveillance systems rely on data from international health agencies. Some focus on specific pathogens. This accumulated data has been used extensively for a number of decades.

More recently, new surveillance methods have emerged which improve the quality, quantity, and timeliness of data. These methods include sentinel surveillance systems and national laboratory networks.

The workshop is expected to conclude on Thursday, October 27, 2016.

 

By: Delicia Haynes

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