Take measures to protect your population – CAHFSA urges in wake of meat safety concerns

 March 24, 2017 @ 6:55 pm   



logo_CAHFSAThe Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) has been monitoring the issue relating to the sale of unwholesome meat and meat products originating from Brazil. Several Member States have already instituted measures to restrict the importation of some or all meat products from Brazil.

It is noted that China, the European Union, and Chile have also instituted restrictive measures. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has redoubled its food inspection efforts on beef products from Brazil although none of the slaughtering or processing facilities implicated in the Brazilian scandal shipped meat products to the U.S. The Department said it is still conducting “additional pathogen testing” of all shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil.


CAHFSA, which is based in Suriname and has been operational since 2014, performs a coordinating and organizing role for the establishment of an effective and efficient regional sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) regime, and executes on behalf of Member States such SPS actions and activities that can be more effectively and efficiently executed through a regional mechanism.

CAHFSA is endeavoring to obtain more information as it relates to the specific plants and products involved and will disseminate same as soon as possible.

We are kindly requesting Member States that are conducting tests of the various products, to share the results with the other Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs)/Member States who may not be in a position to complete the testing protocols. This is in an effort to assist in the decision-making process regarding the continuance of the measures that would have been taken.

We would also like to advise that Members of the Community to take the necessary measures to protect the well-being of their population, until necessary determinations have been made that the products are safe for consumption. This may entail a comprehensive review of the operations/production systems in Brazil in general and the specific companies in particular. Thus, the requirement of a Regional Risk Analysis.







ICT is everyone’s responsibility: Prime Minister Gaston Browne

 March 26, 2017 @ 6:13 am   
Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, delivers the feature address at the Opening Ceremony of ICT Week Antigua and Barbuda.

Antigua, the island of 365 beaches, was the location of the ICT Week and Symposium. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda, in collaboration with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), hosted this event from 20th – 24th March 2017, the theme of which was ICT – Driving 21st Century Intelligent Services.

Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Minister of Finance and Corporate Governance, in delivering the feature address at the Opening Ceremony, stated that everyone needs to get involved in ICT. “ICT is inclusive and all empowering. Promoting ICT is everyone’s responsibility; it is everyone’s business. We need to apply digital thinking and digital policies everywhere.”

The Secretary General of the CTU Ms. Bernadette Lewis in her opening remarks noted the global changes as a result of rapid technological innovation.

(L-R ) – Ms. Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General of the CTU; Hon. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and Hon. Melford Nicholas, Minister of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications and Information Technology pose for a group photo at the Opening Ceremony of ICT Week Antigua and Barbuda, hosted by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in collaboration with the CTU.

“The world has changed at a fundamental level as a result of rapid technological innovation and convergence of information and communication technologies, creating new modes of communication, erasing geographical boundaries, compressing time, providing real-time access to a global audience, changing the way business is conducted presenting a virtual reality into which more and more of our lives are becoming entwined,” she said.

Ms. Lewis encouraged delegates to embrace the transformative potential of ICT to secure the future.  “We must carefully consider the transformative potential of information and communication technologies, and the build the new platforms and structures that can leverage their potential to secure our future.”

She further stated, “We would have to be courageous and prepared to discard the impotent systems that no longer serve our best interests and to put the technologies to work for our advancement and progress. Above all we have to move beyond the talk and to deliberate action.”

The week’s activities included a number of ICT events such as Smart Caribbean Conference, 15th Caribbean Ministerial Strategic ICT Seminar, 3rd Caribbean Stakeholders Meeting: Cyber security and Cyber Crime, Training Programme on Mobile Money for Financial Inclusion and culminates with a Workshop on ICT4PWD (People with Disabilities).

At the Smart Caribbean Conference, Huawei used its extensive global knowledge and experience in creating Smart Cities, to share its vision for developing ICT in the Caribbean region in all sectors, in support of the establishment of the CARICOM Single ICT Space. Participants learnt how cloud computing, virtualization, Big Data, Geographic Information System, the Internet of Things, the ecosystem Software Development Kit and other cutting-edge technologies can be used to create comprehensive, end-to-end Smart Caribbean solutions. Solutions include the safe city, smart city operations centres, one-stop government services, smart transportation and applications for healthcare and education.

The 15th Caribbean Ministerial Strategic ICT Seminar focussed on the application of ICT in the financial services sector and explored new modes of providing secure financial services for all citizens; the use of cryptocurrencies; cyber security and innovative ways of financing the region’s ICT development.


The Caribbean Stakeholders’ Meeting III: Cybersecurity and Cybercrime facilitated discussions for establishing appropriate measures and resources for implementing a Cyber Awareness Campaign as specified in the CARICOM Cyber Security and Cyber Crime Action Plan.


The Training Programme on Mobile Money for Financial Inclusion, facilitated by GSMA, provided an in-depth look at mobile money services — how they work, the stakeholders involved and the regulatory enablers, as well as critical issues such as cross- network interoperability.


The ICT4PWD Workshop which is part of an ongoing initiative by the CTU, is designed to promote inclusive human and social development. Facilitated by Kerry Gunness (blind) and Bryan Rodrigues (deaf), the Workshops demonstrated in a hands-on manner the power of ICT to empower individual PWDs, thereby helping them to lead more fulfilling lives.


A diverse group of stakeholders including Caribbean Ministers of Government from Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and Saint Lucia; senior officials from diverse sectors including ICT, Finance, National Security, Health and Education attended the Seminar.  More than two hundred participants attended the Week’s events.


The CTU wishes to thank their valued sponsors of this event: Platinum – Huawei; Gold – Cable & Wireless Communications; Other Sponsors – INCUS, American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), Digicel, FLOW and C&W Business Communications, Antigua Computer Technology (ACT).

The CTU’s next ICT Week will be hosted by the Government of The Bahamas in Nassau during the third week of September.

Incidences of Foodborne Ailments on the Rise in the Caribbean Region

 March 25, 2017 @ 9:04 am   

CARPHA_logoPort of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  24th March, 2017.  Every year, thousands of people in the Caribbean experience food-borne illnesses, after exposure to contaminated food or drink. Persons affected usually experience severe diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach pain, sometimes accompanied by fever, headaches and other symptoms. Recent increases in reported incidents of foodborne diseases (FBDs), have now made this common health issue a regional priority. 

Dr Bernadette Theodore-Gandi, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, in her opening address to participants at the four-day Sub Regional Workshop on Strengthening Food-borne Disease Surveillance in the Caribbean, indicated that food safety is a global priority  and that PAHO/WHO recommends the farm to table approach, linking the processes from food production, distribution and consumption  to reduce food-borne illnesses in the Region.

Dr Karen Polson-Edwards, Acting Director of the Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control Division at the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), informed participants that statistics show that food-borne illness is one of the most common and increasing public health issues. However, ensuring the safe supply of food in the Caribbean was a complex challenge given the vast differences in countries and the Region’s heavy reliance on tourism and food importation. She also noted that the prevention of food-borne diseases is one of the many priorities of CARPHA, as the Caribbean relies heavily on income gained from the tourism sector which accounts for 25-65% of the gross domestic products in most countries.

Dr Lisa Indar, Head of the Tourism and Health programme and Foodborne Diseases Lead at CARPHA, emphasised that unsafe food can lead to outbreaks of food-borne illness that can have serious health, economic, reputational implications for the region’s tourism dependant economies and adversely affect the influx of visitors to the Region. She highlighted that since 2003, CARPHA and PAHO have been working together to reduce foodborne diseases, and the workshop is part of continued efforts to ensure that the region is equipped to adequately prevent and combat FBDs and boost tourism sustainability.

Mr Neil Rampersad, Chief Public Health Inspector (Ag) for Trinidad and Tobago, in his feature address remarked that foodborne illnesses can severely eat into a nation’s health budget and adversely affects both young and mature.  Additionally, the costliness of food-borne illnesses not only includes costs for medication and treatment, but also involves downtime in productivity. He also said that the workshop was a welcomed strategy to develop national and regional action plans to combat FBD outbreaks.

Participants at the workshop will use the WHO Food-borne Disease Surveillance Manual to individually assess their country’s current ability to combat and prevent FBDs. They will also create action plans to identify areas of priority for national surveillance and the resources required to enhance food safety.

The Workshop was hosted by CARPHA in collaboration with PAHO/WHO from March 21st – 24th, at the Trinidad Hilton and Conference Centre.  Multi-sectoral participants from health, and environment, representing both the English and Dutch speaking Caribbean territories developed plans to strengthen national integrated FBD surveillance programmes and food safety intervention.

CARIFESTA XIII to be launched on Monday

 March 24, 2017 @ 3:56 pm   


The build up to CARIFESTA III continues with the big launch on Monday 27th March in host country Barbados.

The ceremony, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, will feature a number of presentations, including a message from CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque.

CaribVision, the pan-Caribbean television service will provide a live broadcast to the Region.  The broadcast will also be carried by Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) member stations.

The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m.