Introducing banana pasta

Tonya Ifill preparing another batch of green bananas. (Photo by Ricardo Leacock via Barbados Nation)
Tonya Ifill preparing another batch of green bananas. (Photo by Ricardo Leacock via Barbados Nation)
‘Anything you do with normal flour you can do with banana flour. You are replacing the white flour with a healthy alternative. It has a sweet taste but there’s no sugar. I’ve found that when you dry out products, you get a little sweetness.’ – Tonya Ifill
IF ONE ENTREPRENEUR has her way, more consumers will be setting aside their wheat, cassava and sweet potato products for those made with green bananas.

Tonya Ifill, owner and operator of Carlesa’s Enterprises pioneered flour and pasta made from the unripened fruit. Ifill was attending Agrofest when she spoke with BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.

She got the idea while participating in an agro-processing course at the Guyana School of Agriculture. As a group project, participants had to come up with a product that was new to the South American country.

“I did sweet potato and brown rice pasta and got my cousin to export a pasta machine from Canada and I was ready. When I came back [to Barbados], I was looking for something different to work with instead of the same sweet potato and cassava. I researched green bananas, asked around for some and started my trials and it took off from there,” she said.

Read more at: Barbados Nation

Regional experts lay groundwork for unified response to vector-borne diseases

Regional experts meet to discuss strategies to create a Vector-Borne Disease Network
Regional experts meet to discuss strategies to create a Vector-Borne Disease Network

“Although Dengue has been in the Region for years, with the introduction of Chikungunya in 2013, and now Zika, vector-borne diseases (VBDs) have become very prominent, taking centre stage,” stated Dr Karen Polson-Edwards, Acting Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

Dr Polson-Edwards was speaking at the opening of the first meeting of the Surveillance and Vector Control Working Groups of the Caribbean Vector-Borne Diseases Network (CariVecNet). The Agency, as coordinator of the Network, hosted 20 experts in vector control and vector-borne disease surveillance from ten CARPHA Member States.  Personnel from Institut Pasteur, Guadeloupe; Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, St. Kitts and Nevis and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) were also in attendance.  From 13 – 14 March, delegates discussed the formation and operations of the Network and drafted two-year work plans for both working groups.

The Network will act as an avenue for exchange of surveillance information on the circulating vector borne diseases, and collaboration on vector control and research topics such as insecticide resistance and community-based intervention.  Additionally, the Network will work on the standardisation of operating procedures and training for the diagnosis, surveillance, prevention and control of vector-borne diseases in the Caribbean, with the expected long-term outcome being better prevention and control of VBDs. (more…)

Jamaican scientists close to creating affordable hepatitis C drug from ganja

marijuanaResearch scientists, led by Dr Henry Lowe, say they have discovered properties in Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the major bioactive compounds in the cannabis (ganja) plant, that have the potential to provide affordable treatment as nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals for hepatitis C.

“We report here for the first time n vitro studies to demonstrate the antiviral activity of CBD against HCV,” Dr Lowe and his research team —Jamaican Wayne McLaughlin and Cameroonian Dr Ngeh Toyang — state in their published study, adding that Cannabidiol was shown to have activity against HCV in vitro but not against hepatitis B virus (HBV).

On Friday, Lowe, who is known worldwide for his anti-cancer and ganja research, as well as the production of a range of nutraceuticals using Jamaican plants, said that the discovery is a major development.

“This is a new discovery which has fantastic potential for the future, especially for people in developing countries, because there is a drug which was developed for hepatitis C treatment, but it’s over US$85,000 per treatment and very few people in the developing world can afford this,” he said. “So it is very important that we find less expensive means of treatment, and that is why this discovery and its potential to manage this disease is so important.” (Jamaica Observer)

Regional response to childhood obesity intensifies

childhood obesity campaign

Bridgetown, Barbados, 9th February 2017. Childhood obesity continues to be a serious public health concern in the Region. Statistics show that more than 30% of our Caribbean adolescents are overweight or obese, and risk developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular diseases later in life. The economic burden of diabetes and hypertension alone is estimated at between 1.4% and 8% of GDP in the Caribbean, thus creating a significant drain on Caribbean economies, and threatening development prospects.

Recognising the critical need for leadership and cross-sectoral action to address this health issue, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO), and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and with funding from Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) hosted a meeting to develop a roadmap to prevent childhood obesity through improved food and nutrition security.

The opening ceremony took place earlier this week at the Barbados Yacht Club, and was marked by the presence of the Barbados Minister of Health, the Honourable John D. E. Boyc,e and other high level officials from regional institutions.

“The meeting will look at how we can together accelerate action on the ground, in countries, in the food environment and nutrition area, especially for the most vulnerable – our children. The meeting is historic as it gathers at least half of CARICOM Institutions to focus attention on a key development challenge through implementing a 6-point policy package for healthier less obesogenic food environments,” said, Dr. C. James Hospedales, CARPHA Executive Director, in his welcoming remarks

He added that fiscal and trade measures, mandatory nutritional labelling to empower consumers and elimination of trans fats from food supplies were among the areas that must be addressed, buttressed by region-wide and sustained information and communication.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is the single regional public health agency for the Caribbean. It was legally established in July 2011 by an Inter-governmental Agreement signed by Caribbean Member States and began operation in January 2013. The Agency rationalises public health arrangements in the Region by combining the functions of five Caribbean Regional Health Institutions (RHIs) into a single agency. They are:  The Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI)  The Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC)  The Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI)  The Caribbean Health Research Council (CHRC)  The Caribbean Regional Drug Testing Laboratory (CRDTL) CARPHA brings these RHIs together as one strong force under a public health umbrella where issues requiring a regional response can be addressed.
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