St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): A regional health agency says recent increases in reported incidents of food borne diseases have now made this common health issue a regional priority.

CARPHA – the Caribbean Public Health Agency says incidences of food borne ailments are on the rise in the Caribbean.

Health experts are recommending what they describe as the farm to table approach, linking the processes from food production, distribution and consumption to reduce food-borne illnesses in the region.

They’ve been quoting statistics showing that food-borne illness is one of the most common and increasing public health issues. 

Tackling the problem isn’t easy, the islands are being told, because ensuring the safe supply of food in the Caribbean is a complex challenge.

That’s reportedly because of the vast differences in countries and the region’s heavy reliance on tourism and food importation.

It was emphasized at a recent workshop that unsafe food can lead to outbreaks of food-borne illness that can have serious health, economic, reputational implications for the region’s tourism dependant economies and adversely affect the influx of visitors to the Caribbean.

According to the health experts who spoke there, foodborne illnesses can severely eat into a nation’s health budget, and adversely affects both young and mature. 

They have indicated that additionally, the costliness of foodborne illnesses not only includes costs for medication and treatment, but also involves downtime in productivity.

According to CARPHA, thousands of people in the Caribbean experience foodborne illnesses every year, after exposure to contaminated food or drink.

The health agency says persons affected usually experience severe diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, sometimes accompanied by fever, headaches and other symptoms.


Ken Richards
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