Caribbean nations to launch survey on food-borne diseases

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Published: Friday | February 13, 2009


Jamaica, along with six other Caribbean islands, is set to embark on a yearlong study which seeks to identify the cause of some food-borne diseases that continue to plague the region and other parts of the globe.

The Jamaica Burden of Illness Study will be carried out by the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre and is slated to begin February 21. The study will carry two components, including a population survey - also to be done in two phases, one at the lower peak of the diarrhoeal disease season and the other during the higher peak.

The second part of the study will seek to assess the capabilities of the country's National Public Health Laboratory in isolating pathogens that cause food-borne illnesses, with the aim to improve the capacity of the lab to handle these kinds of specimens.

Assess burden

The official launch of the study was held yesterday at the Ministry of Health in Kingston.

According to Health Minister Rudyard Spen-cer in a speech read by Dr Eva Lewis-Fuller, director of the health promotion and protection division at the ministry, the aim of the study is to assess the burden of food-borne illnesses in Jamaica, including the burden of acute gastro-enteritis, acute respiratory tract infections, as well as fever of unknown origins.

"It will also allow for the attainment of more complete and accurate data of the specifics of these conditions," he said. "The study will also help us in ascertaining the sensitivity of the routine communicable disease surveillance system in detecting these diseases in Jamaica and will allow us to strengthen the laboratory and surveillance systems locally."

The minister said the study has become extremely relevant given the fact that Jamaicans are now living in a global village, with increased movement of people and goods across borders.




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