Veterinary Public Health unit working to eliminate food-borne diseases

GINA, GUYANA, Monday, February 20, 2017

The Veterinary Public Health (VPH) Unit of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) is set to intensify efforts to tackle and eliminate food- borne diseases by placing emphasis on hygiene, zoonosis control and prevention, and health education.

Awareness programmes will be rolled out across Guyana to educate persons on the risks of contracting these diseases.

Dr. Joshua Da Silva – Director, Veterinary Public Health Unit, Ministry of Public Health

Veterinary Public Health focuses on the application of veterinary science to protect and improve the physical, mental and social well-being of humans.

Dr. Joshua Da Silva, Director of the VPH Unit told the Government Information Agency (GINA), that the Public Health Ministry is taking a strategic approach towards eliminating food-borne diseases.

“…our work in Veterinary Public Health is integrated into the 2020 vision (Health Vision 2020) in a very sustainable, strategic way so that we can all achieve the development of what we are looking for, for healthy lifestyles for the people of this country,” the Director explained.

Food-borne diseases or food-borne illnesses, colloquially referred to as food poisoning, is any illness resulting from the consumption of spoiled or contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food, as well as chemical or natural toxins.

Dr. Da Silva added that this elimination process essentially starts with basic human hygiene. He stressed that food handlers and other persons preparing food, mainly of animal origin for mass consumption, should practise proper hygiene so as to prevent transmission of food- borne diseases.

He said, “Another issue of significant concern with regards to the health of the people, is the risk for transmission of disease…over the years it has been proven that the main transmitter of diseases is the hand. The hand acts as the vehicle for transmission of disease so when personal hygiene is not well practised then one can transmit many germs including for example faeces and objects that have salmonella bacteria.”

The VPH Unit is responsible for the inspection and certification of poultry, seafood and fishery products, as well as the inspection certification and quality control of red meat.

Additionally, the protection of the environment from the effects of animal ownership and the industrialisation of animal production are high on the unit’s agenda. The unit will also assist in the investigation of food-borne illnesses at all levels possible to find out the source of food contamination in order to put corrective measures in place.

With the cooperation and assistance of other relevant agencies, the VPH Unit will promote the enactment and enforcement of legislation which relate to the functions of Veterinary Public Health and conduct epidemiological surveillance data collection, evaluation, and distribution of information on zoonosis and food-borne diseases of animal origin.


By: Delicia Haynes