The CARICOM Competition Commission (CCC) and the Caribbean Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) have expressed concern about the new global threat of antibiotics resistance.
According to a press release from the CARICOM Secretariat, in a joint statement issued on the occasion of World Consumer Rights Day to be observed on March 15, the institutions explained the associated challenges and dangers of such resistance.
The Joint Statement said “the overuse of antibiotics in livestock is a growing concern largely because it allows resistant bacteria and resistance genes to spread from these animals to humans through the food-chain. As a result, human infections with antibiotic resistant bacteria can be difficult or impossible to cure, and may lead to death in some instances. Moreover, because livestock and foods of animal origin are traded worldwide, this could contribute to antibiotic resistance in countries which are far removed from where the problem originate.”
The agencies highlighted the high level of imported products from international partners, noting that in 2013 alone this amounted to a cost of approximately US$19.8 billion in meats and edible offal.
They called for “a careful approach” and strategies “to protect CARICOM consumers from antibiotic resistant foods….”holistic, inter-sectoral and multifaceted approaches must be developed both at the national and regional levels in CARICOM”.
These included effective coordination of resources and actions to control the importation, sale, distribution and most importantly use of antimicrobials.
“This integrated approach would facilitate the effective coordination of resources and actions needed to control the importation, sale/distribution, and most importantly the use of antimicrobials in order to deal with this critical issue. It is also the view of the CCC that national consumer protection agencies (NCPAs) within the region have a significant role to play in national strategies to curb antibiotic resistance caused in this manner,” the statement emphasized.