Thousands of people in the Caribbean are reported to experience food-borne illnesses every year, after exposure to contaminated food or drink.
Persons affected usually experience severe diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, sometimes accompanied by fever, headaches and other symptoms.
Recent increases in reported incidents of food borne diseases (FBDs) have now made this common health issue a regional priority.
Dr. Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, in her opening address to participants at a four-day Sub Regional Workshop on Strengthening Food-borne Disease Surveillance in the Caribbean, held in Trinidad from March 21-24 said food safety is a global priority and PAHO/WHO recommends the farm to table approach, linking the processes from food production, distribution and consumption to reduce food-borne illnesses in the Region.
Dr. Karen Polson-Edwards, Acting Director of the Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), informed participants that statistics show that food-borne illness is one of the most common and increasing public health issues.
However, ensuring the safe supply of food in the Caribbean was a complex challenge given the vast differences in countries and the Region’s heavy reliance on tourism and food importation.