Sunday, April 21, 2024

Food diseases study launched


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Barbados yesterday launched a study to determine the prevalence of food-borne diseases on the island.Stressing the importance of the study, Minister of Health Donville Inniss said: “Before we make decisions on food safety policies and interventions, we must know how many people are getting sick each year from food-borne diseases, the type of food-borne disease that is prevalent, and who is getting sick and from which foods.”The launch took place at the office of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO), Dayrells Road, Christ Church, where a meeting was later held to sensitise environmental health professionals about the study which will take the form of a population survey and laboratory testing.Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John said that seven to ten per cent of the population experienced gastrointestinal illnesses.“We’re going to go to the population and ask whole families to recall certain things, such as if they had illness and what did they eat and where.Stool test “Then there is laboratory surveillance, as we need to get the stool tests out, so when someone goes to doctors with illness, we need them to take a stool test and we need the public to insist on it as well,” St John said.“In 2000 to 2008 the average incidence was 59 cases of food-borne disease over 100 000 people  . . . [and] one death was also reported. “Outbreaks average three per year and at least 70 per cent of those were from hotels and viral carriages are common in institutions like these,” she said.St John said that as a tourist-dependent country Barbados had to avoid outbreaks of such illnesses.Barbados has joined seven other countries in the Burden of Illness Study which is being done by  the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre and PAHO.  The study will provide an estimate of the burden of acute gastroenteritis, food-borne diseases and specific pathogens commonly transmitted by food.The information gathered will provide the basis to guide prevention and control measures. (CA)


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