Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 14 October 2022. It is essential that we strive for a society in which all people, everywhere, have reliable access to nutritionally adequate and environmentally sustainable food. On 16th October, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) joins its partners and the Caribbean people in observing World Food Day 2022 with the theme "Leave NO ONE Behind".
We must allude to the fact that there is a close relationship between dietary health, food security, and food safety. This is evident in recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Ukraine/Russia unrest - these events 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, 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 which had a negative effect on the patterns of trade, production, and consumption of commodities. 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.
“At CARPHA we implement 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,” stated Dr. Lisa Indar, Director of Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division.
We all have a role to play. Thus, CARPHA sends out the call to all - farmers, research and academic institutions, civil society organisation, 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.
Let us come together to build food systems that can withstand the impacts of potential future global disasters. As a Region we need to take a leave no one behind approach -- encourage the production and consumption of nutrient-rich, locally sourced, low-cost foods; make a concerted effort to respect food and the environment by wasting less; and support initiatives that reduce poverty and hunger.
Everyone counts… we must ensure that no one is left behind.