PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago - Every year, thousands of people in the Caribbean experience food-borne illnesses, after exposure to contaminated food or drink. Persons affected usually experience severe diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, sometimes accompanied by fever, headaches and other symptoms. Recent increases in reported incidents of foodborne diseases (FBDs), have now made this common health issue a regional priority.

Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, in her opening address to participants at the four-day Sub Regional Workshop on Strengthening Food-borne Disease Surveillance in the Caribbean, indicated that food safety is a global priority  and that PAHO/WHO recommends the farm to table approach, linking the processes from food production, distribution and consumption  to reduce food-borne illnesses in the Region.

Dr Karen Polson-Edwards, Acting Director of the Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), informed participants that statistics show that food-borne illness is one of the most common and increasing public health issues. However, ensuring the safe supply of food in the Caribbean was a complex challenge given the vast differences in countries and the Region’s heavy reliance on tourism and food importation. She also noted that the prevention of food-borne diseases is one of the many priorities of CARPHA, as the Caribbean relies heavily on income gained from the tourism sector which accounts for 25-65% of the gross domestic products in most countries.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago  Every year, thousands of people in the Caribbean experience food-borne illnesses, after exposure to contaminated food or drink. Persons affected usually experience severe diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, sometimes accompanied by fever, headaches and other symptoms. Recent increases in reported incidents of foodborne diseases (FBDs), have now made this common health issue a regional priority.

Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, in her opening address to participants at the four-day Sub Regional Workshop on Strengthening Food-borne Disease Surveillance in the Caribbean, indicated that food safety is a global priority  and that PAHO/WHO recommends the farm to table approach, linking the processes from food production, distribution and consumption  to reduce food-borne illnesses in the Region.

Dr Karen Polson-Edwards, Acting Director of the Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), informed participants that statistics show that food-borne illness is one of the most common and increasing public health issues. However, ensuring the safe supply of food in the Caribbean was a complex challenge given the vast differences in countries and the Region’s heavy reliance on tourism and food importation. She also noted that the prevention of food-borne diseases is one of the many priorities of CARPHA, as the Caribbean relies heavily on income gained from the tourism sector which accounts for 25-65% of the gross domestic products in most countries.

Dr Lisa Indar, Head of the Tourism and Health programme and Foodborne Diseases Lead at CARPHA, emphasised 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 Region. She highlighted that since 2003, CARPHA and PAHO have been working together to reduce foodborne diseases, and the workshop is part of continued efforts to ensure that the region is equipped to adequately prevent and combat FBDs and boost tourism sustainability.

Mr Neil Rampersad, Chief Public Health Inspector (Ag) for Trinidad and Tobago, in his feature address remarked that foodborne illnesses can severely eat into a nation’s health budget and adversely affects both young and mature.  Additionally, the costliness of food-borne illnesses not only includes costs for medication and treatment, but also involves downtime in productivity. He also said that the workshop was a welcomed strategy to develop national and regional action plans to combat FBD outbreaks.

DUTCH CARIBBEAN - The shipping before the coast and the waters of Curacao were intensively controlled last Thursday. The station ship, the HNLMS Van Amstel which operates for the Dutch Caribbean Coastguard, together with the coastguard cutter Jaguar and other assets of the coastguard, boarded several vessels and inspected them for illegal activities and other deficiencies.

The coastguard assets at sea were supported by the flying assets of Airstation Hato among which the maritime patrol aircraft the Dash-8 and the AW 139 helicopter. Patrols were also conducted with the NH 90 helicopter from the station ship.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Visually impaired Kerryn Gunness is excited about the possibilities offered by a new free app that would serve as his eyes and enable people like him to enjoy greater independence.

The Personal Universal Communicator (PUC) app is part of a new generation of cheaper assistive technologies making their way onto the market which allow people with disabilities to use technology that was formerly too expensive, but provided them with greater independence.

Gunness had the opportunity to do a test run of the app with its accompanying Internet-based Video Assistance Service (VAS) as part of a pilot project being launched by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), under the umbrella of its ICT for People with Disabilities initiative. Regional statistics suggest that about five per cent of the populations in the Caribbean have a disability.

With this app, Gunness said, “I am able to be independent, manage my affairs, feel comfortable just like my sighted peers.”

CARIBBEAN NETHERLANDS - On Friday March 24th The Caribbean Netherlands Fire Brigade (BKCN) held a special wet down ceremony for its brand new crash tender at the Juancho Yrausquin Airport at Flat Point. This new fire vehicle was commissioned especially for operation at Saba’s airport and has been put into use after a week of training by technicians from the company Rosenbauer. The ceremony was attended by all firemen/woman, airport management and staff and Island Governor, Jonathan Johnson.

General Commander of the Caribbean Netherlands Fire Brigade, Jair Tromp, travelled to Saba for this occasion. Tromp explained that the Ministry of Security and Justice had commissioned this crash tender to meet the specific requirements of Saba which is a category 3 airport. “It took more than a year and I am happy this vehicle is finally here and can be put into use whenever required.

I am equally proud to say that throughout the past several years the team here on Saba has been trained and upgraded in various disciplines of firefighting and disaster management. Our mission to strengthen the entire Caribbean Netherlands Fire Brigade continues. I am pleased with the results thus far.”

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