Today the Ministry of Health shared with the media the results of a Foodborne Disease Research study. What’s this you ask? The Ministry says the study launched in September 2012 was aimed at estimating the proportion of the population suffering from Acute Gastroenteritis (AGI) also known as stomach flu, at a specific time period while also estimating the economic burden the disease has on the public health system.
An estimated 2,901 questionnaires were completed from 3,110 households sampled which garnered a response rate of 93.6 percent. The results showed that the prevalence of self-reporting Acute Gastroenteritis was 7.1 percent for September to October 2012. The predominant biological agents contributing to the disease and other related illnesses over the study period were parasites. The highest monthly prevalence of cases of AGI came from the Cayo District followed by Belize. The burden of AGI on the public health system was estimated at $6.2 million annually taking into consideration basic medical services, supplies, hospitalization as well as working days lost and the need for care giver services.
The release ended stating that food borne infections are linked to a significant number of illness and deaths worldwide. Studies show that 70 percent of diarrheal diseases are foodborne. Interventions in food safety and improvements in underreporting at laboratory level will be targeted by the Ministry.
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