Mar 13, 2016 News
By PAT DIAL
Last week this column touched on the theme of World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) which was “ANTIBIOTICS OFF THE MENU”. World Consumer Rights Day is one of the most important events in the Consumer Community’s calendar and it has many facets. We would again be highlighting WCRD this week but showing a different facet.
The Ministry of Business under whose aegis the Consumer Affairs Division falls, has arranged a number of impacting programmes to commemorate the Day – 15th March. Ms. Muriel Tinnis, Director of Consumer Affairs, ably assisted by Ms. Kushana Archer, has been engaged in perfecting arrangements over the last few weeks. We of the Guyana Consumers Association have always offered our cooperation and support and we are confident that the events will be as successful as they have been in previous years.
The Day will begin with a Symposium starting at 9.00 a.m. at the Arthur Chung National Convention Centre. The presenters and discussion leaders are all very knowledgeable persons in their respective fields.
The President of the Guyana Consumers Association will speak on Consumerism in general and the place of WCRD in it. The Representative of the Ministry of Health will speak on the threat to human health caused by the feeding of antibiotics to farm animals to stimulate growth and increase their weight. The Representative of the Ministry of Agriculture will speak on the increasing resistance to antibiotics and the policy options of the Government of Guyana to reduce this emerging threat.
The WHO/PAHO Representative will speak on Antibiotic Resistance: What the Agricultural Sector can do. The discussion session promises to be fruitful and lively.
The Day will conclude in the evening with a Consumer Excellence Appreciation ceremony where some consumer advocates will be honoured followed by a dinner. The Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin, will be the Speaker at this final session. There would be wide media coverage on television, radio and the Press of the main presentations.
The Consumer Division of the Ministry of Business, the Guyana Consumers Association and the Consumer and Competition Commission will continue to pursue the goal abolishing or at least minimizing the serving of antibiotic fed meats in restaurants and the sale of such meats in the supermarkets.
Before we end this offering we would briefly recap for the benefit of readers some of the ground we have already covered:
(I) Existing antibiotics should be used strictly according to a doctor’s prescription or advice. Quite often, sick persons underuse or overuse antibiotics and if they do so, they could develop immunities to those antibiotics or similar types. Curing their future ailments becomes more difficult or impossible.
(ii) Farm animals such as chicken, pigs, sheep and cows are widely fed on antibiotics to increase their growth and weight. When humans consume the meat of such animals, they are ingesting such antibiotics, eventually developing antibiotic immunity.
(iii) With antibiotic immunities, important medicines stop working and many simple ailments or surgical operations now become much more difficult to treat or become life-threatening or deadly.
The way of dealing with this problem is (a) To have the international fast foods chains such as McDonald’s, Subway and KFC cease serving antibiotic raised meats. And in Guyana this would include Banks DIH and Royal Castle.
(b) National Legislation banning the use of antibiotics to increase the growth of farm animals. The European Union has already done so.
(c) Widespread public education on the dangers of consuming antibiotic-raised meats. The Media and School system must be involved.
The Guyana Consumers Association has written the four main fast food chains in Guyana asking them to come on board as McDonald’s and Subway have done in the United States. We have also written the Ministry of Education to have knowledge of the dangers of the consumption of antibiotic raised meats propagated in the School System.
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