The Guyana Livestock Development Authorities (GLDA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) conducted a three-day workshop on Integrated Foodborne Diseases Surveillance, under the theme “Fight back! Keep Food Safe from Bacteria”. Thirty-seven (37) persons participated in the workshop. Participants included representatives from the GLDA, the Environmental Unit and the Veterinary and Food and Drugs Departments of the Ministry of Health, Guyana Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), St. Joseph Mercy Hospital and the Georgetown Mayor & City Council. The workshop was held from 23 to 25 May, 2012, at the Ocean View International Hotel, Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara.
Objective of the Workshop
The main objective of the workshop was to strengthen inter sectoral collaboration for the prevention, control and surveillance on Foodborne Diseases.
Dr. Zoila Fletcher-Payton, Consultant, Health Surveillance and Disease Prevention and Control (PAHO/WHO) highlighted the importance of the workshop and mentioned that, in the globalized political economy of the late 20th century, increasing social, political and economic interdependence is occurring as a result of the rapid movement of people, images, values, and financial transactions across national borders. She indicated that another consequence of the increase in transnational trade, travel, and migration is the greater risk of cross-border transmission of infectious diseases.
She indicated that as the world becomes more interconnected, diseases spread more rapidly and effectively. With more than one million people crossing international borders every day, and with the globalization of food production, manufacturing, and marketing, the risk of infectious disease transmission is greater. Economic globalization has also increased the need for governmental budget austerity, and consequent national preparedness has been eroded. The emergence of new infectious disease as well as the re-emergence of old ones thus represents a crucial transnational policy issue.
Brief remarks were made by Dr. Ashok Sookdeo, Director, Environmental Health Unit, Ministry of Health, who stated that surveillance involves the timely selection, analyzing and reporting of information to relevant authorities to ensure essential corrective actions are taken. He outlined that the participants all have a role to play to ensure the system is more efficient and that there is no outbreak of Foodborne Diseases.
Eng. Adrianus Vlugman, Senior Advisor, Sustainable Development and Environmental Health, PAHO/WHO, in his remarks, stated that worldwide, foodborne diseases, and more especially diarrheal diseases, are an important cause of morbidity and mortality. Additionally, Foodborne diseases are a growing public health problem worldwide. Reliable epidemiological estimates on the burden of foodborne diseases are important in order to assess the impact of food safety measures and advise policy-makers on the cost-effective use of resources. Surveillance of foodborne disease is a fundamental component of food safety systems. Surveillance data are used for planning, implementing and evaluating public health policies. He further stated there is need in Guyana to strengthen surveillance systems for foodborne disease to adequately advise public health policy makers.
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