Guyana es uno de los 72 países del mundo que erradicó la pobreza extrema y el hambre
Health and Agriculture Ministers underscore importance of food safety-as Guyana observes World Health Day with symposium
Today countries around the world celebrated World Health Day 2015, under the theme “From Farm to Plate, Make Food Safe”. As a part of the local celebrations, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), in collaboration with its partners, hosted a symposium with respect to the theme.
The event which was held at the National Cultural Centre (NCC) Mandela Avenue, Georgetown saw presentations from various organisations and agencies under the Ministries of Health and Agriculture. It focused on food safety and security and the health impacts that unhealthy foods can have on individuals.
Minister of Health Dr. Bheri Ramsaran expressed gratitude to the collaborating bodies, especially the Ministry of Agriculture, as he pointed out that food safety is a key element in the health sector.
He noted that Guyana is looking at improvement in every facet: food security, quality and policies, as the government has commenced work in these areas.
Dr. Ramsaran also pointed out that his ministry has recently strengthened its food and drugs department, which resulted in the seizing of a quantity of damaged and expired food items, which were meant for marketing earlier this year.
The ministry is also currently working with schools to educate the younger generation on healthy eating habits, and encouraged all citizens to recognise their roles in this cause, as he called for more private sector participation.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Agriculture and Former Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, in his remarks, pointed out that the life expectancy rate in Guyana has increased, and this was possible as a result of access to improved sanitisation, better quality of water and food security.
He pointed out that Guyana is one of the 72 countries in the world, to have achieved the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goal (MDG) One, which is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
He added that Guyana has not only met the MDG requirement, but is one of 17 countries that have met the more ambitious goals of the World Food Programme in 1996. Its newest achievement is that Guyana has been invited to a function in Rome, for becoming one of 29 countries to have achieved the World Food Programme targets.
The minister then underscored the importance of agriculture in food security, stating that many of the foods, particularly agricultural products that are consumed, cause harm to the body, due to the fact that they are many times sprayed with chemicals, which in some cases, have negative impacts on the human body.
This poses a challenge, as many countries, which are food importers, demand that the foods be sprayed before entering their countries, ignoring the fact that this can be harmful to consumers in some cases.
He noted that annually, two billion people across the world die from the lack of food. He further added that food security and nutrition security are two very different issues, but are often mistaken as the same. He explained that they can influence each other; however, they “are two different things.”
Minister Ramsammy then turned his attention to the topic of antibiotics, acknowledging the fact that these play an important role in increasing life expectancy across the world, and that agriculture has a major role in protecting it, since it is being threatened by Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
AMR occurs when bacteria acquire a genetic mutation, making it resistant to the effects of one or more antimicrobial agents (forms of antibiotics) that were once effective.
The minister emphasised the seriousness of AMR, noting that it is as serious as climate change. He added that it is expected that by the end of 2015, about 700, 000 will die from this resistance, particularly in developing countries.
The minister has called on the United Nations to establish a governmental body, similar to that of climate change, to address the issue.
He then recognised the progressive vaccine programme that Guyana has, lauding the achievement. He urged its continuation, as well as efforts to further improve the quality of water and the protection of antibiotics.
In addition, Angela Alleyne, Assistant Representative, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), pledged the institution’s continued support to the fight.
Also present at the ceremony were Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, representatives of the two ministries, representatives of collaborating agencies including PAHO and UN, and some members of the diplomatic corps.
This year’s theme depicts the entire progress of the chain, from production to consumption. Guyana has established and is currently working with a 10 – year food security strategy.