Sunday is World Food Day and the Caribbean Public Health Agency CARPHA wants countries in the region, including Antigua and Barbuda to strive for a society in which all people can have reliable access to nutritionally and environmentally sustainable food.
Today’s observance is being held under the theme Leave No Behind and CARPHA says there is a close relationship between dietary health, food security, and food safety.
This is evident according to the organization in recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Ukraine/Russia unrest.
These events they say have exacerbated food insecurity and inflation, which has kept prices at all-time high levels and threatens to continue until the end of 2024.
Amidst these crises, however, CARPHA says the people of the Caribbean, have continued to struggle to earn a living and meet their basic food requirements.
According to a survey by the World Food Programme, from August 2022, 4.1 million people in the English-speaking Caribbean have been affected by food insecurity, with a significant increase of over one million affected since February 2022.
Additionally, climate change hurt the patterns of trade, production, and consumption of commodities.
And too, the organization said over time, weather patterns have impacted agricultural practices, crop production, and food crop nutritional quality.
Due to the susceptibility of germs, potentially toxin-producing microorganisms, and other pests to climatic factors, the effects of climate change may influence the frequency of some food-borne diseases, according to CARPHA.
Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division Dr. Lisa Indar said CARPHA implements an integrated One Health approach to ensure safe food, which encompasses a multi-sectoral, multi-collaborative, cross-sectional approach to ensure that integrated food-borne disease surveillance is carried out in our Member States, linking the epidemiological, laboratory, environmental and veterinary aspects of foods safety.
“We encourage stakeholders to work collectively to identify measures that will encourage individual and community food safety initiatives, early detection of potential threats at each link along the farm-to-table continuum, and implement solutions. We are at the forefront of building the Region’s capacity through advanced food safety training and certification and enhanced food safety laboratory test capabilities,” she said.
Adding, “we all have a role to play. Thus, CARPHA sends out the call to all – farmers, research and academic institutions, civil society organisations, and private businesses – to increase collaborative and supportive efforts to guarantee that the Caribbean’s food safety practices are improved. Governments are encouraged to employ a unified health policy to promote safer food options from farm to fork”.