Jamaica Must Strengthen its Monitoring System to Prevent Food Borne Diseases – Dr. Pate


With the region moving toward a single market economy, Jamaica will need to strengthen its monitoring and surveillance system to prevent food bourne diseases, which can be transported through the transfer of goods from one country to the next, said Dr. Ernest Pate, Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) representative to Jamaica.
Dr. Pate, who was addressing a conference on emerging and re-emerging pathogens of public health significance on Wednesday (Dec.8) at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston, said that, “it is quite easy to transmit a problem from the southern Caribbean to the northern islands, hence a need for greater collaboration with the rest of the region.”
Food safety and the diseases in this region would need to be addressed in a comprehensive fashion, he pointed out, if the Caribbean hoped to achieve some of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
In fact, Dr. Pate said, Jamaica could be proud of its record in food safety, noting that death from diarrhoeal diseases have been reduced in recent times, while the island was no longer witnessing high rates of malnutrition. He noted however, that there was still a risk of introducing illnesses if the food coming into the island were not safe.
Turning to veterinary public health, the PAHO/WHO representative indicated that rabies has been eliminated from the region, while significant progress has been made in the eradication of foot and mouth disease in a number of South American countries. He however, pointed to the need for effective training and collaboration to effectively tackle emerging and re-emerging diseases.
He noted that PAHO was promoting the building of partnerships in veterinary public health with the overall goal of achieving a better quality of life in the Caribbean. “We have been working on the consumption of safe food. We have been working on aspects of strengthening policies, strengthening national programmes, setting standards, looking at legislation, training human resources, looking at surveillance and we already have had some successes in the western hemisphere,” Dr. Pate informed.
Dr. Lloyd Webb, Caribbean Veterinary Public Health Advisor in PAHO, in his address at the conference, pointed out that the Ministry of Agriculture could not be excluded from discussions regarding emerging and re-emerging pathogens due to the fact that a lot of these diseases are passed from animals to humans.
He indicated that at least 11 of the last 12 human infections in the world, in recent times, have actually arisen from animal sources.
The expanding trade through the movement of animal and animal products, whether through legal or illegal means poses a challenge for Caribbean countries especially those with many seaports as these provide easy access for food bourne diseases.
Among those attending the conference were veterinary public health inspectors, public health inspectors, nurses, veterinarians and medical doctors.

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