Trinidad and Tobago, 25th November, 2013. On November 25th and 26th, 2013, the Pan American Health Organization conducted a subregional workshop on Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Plans to address Nutrition and Food Safety issues at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The workshop was attended by thirty (30) participants representing the national health disaster coordinators, food safety and nutrition officers from ten countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Representatives of CDEMA (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency), CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency), the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation), IICA (Inter American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture), and INCAP (Instituto de Nutrición de Centroamérica y Panamá) also attended the workshop.
In his opening address, the Honourable Dr. Fuad Khan, Minister of Health of Trinidad and Tobago, emphasized the fundamental human right to access to adequate and safe food, even in emergency situations. He also stressed the importance for each country to build the capacity within their national Disaster Management Organisations to assess the needs of the population and identify high risk groups that would require specific interventions during emergency situations, such as the poor and malnourished, pregnant women and children.
Workshop facilitators highlighted the main food safety and nutrition risks during emergencies and disasters. National participants presented their current emergency plans, structures and response capacities. They worked in groups to identify issues and challenges to incorporating food safety and nutrition actions in their national disaster preparedness and response plans, and developed action plans to address these challenges. The entire group discussed future institutional and capacity building needs to properly address food safety and nutrition issue during emergencies. PAHO resolved to collaborate closely with CDEMA, CARPHA and the FAO to strengthen disaster risk reduction and management in Caribbean countries.
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Click here to access a video excerpt of the Opening Ceremony