All island conference to tackle food bourne disease

17, January 2006. Public health professionals from across the island of Ireland will meet in Belfast this week to look at best practice for the prevention and control of foodborne illnesses such as salmonella and e.coli.

Organised by safefood, the Food Safety Promotion Board, the All Island Infectious Intestinal Disease conference is one of the first major initiatives by the all-island collaborative forum established by safefood last year. The forum which also includes the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre in Northern Ireland and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in the Republic of Ireland was established last year as a direct response to research by safefood highlighting the need for a food safety system that harmonies the work of the key agencies on the island of Ireland.

This week’s conference will include a range of case-study based presentations, designed to promote best practice and strategies for improving the public health profession’s management of and response to foodborne illness outbreaks.

A new cross border control plan to deal with such an outbreak will also be launched at the conference. Developed by CAWT (Co-operation and Working Together), the plan’s development has been funded by the EU INTERREG IIIA programme and safefood. The plan aims to ensure greater preparedness in the event of having to manage and control an outbreak which involves both sides of the border. Developed in association with professionals working on the ground on both sides of the border, it provides specific guidance and direction to local Health Boards, Health Service Executive and public health professionals in relation to both investigation and control.

The cross border plan also defines roles and responsibilities for all the different statutory authorities involved and provides comprehensive information to facilitate more efficient co-ordination by all the partners involved in managing a potential cross border outbreak. Designed to be a ‘live’ document, the plan is available online at www.cawt.com and will be updated to reflect changing circumstances.

Commenting on the importance of this conference, Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, safefood’s Director of Human Health and Nutrition said: “The prevention and control of foodborne disease remains a pressing public health issue. Approximately one quarter of notified cases of salmonella cases last year were found to be imported from overseas so given that these diseases do not respect borders, it is vital that public health professionals on the island of Ireland work together to share experience, expertise and best practice. By doing so, at events such as this conference, we can improve our ability to keep our communities healthy.”

Ends

Notes to editors

  1. The All Island Infectious Intestinal Disease Conference will take place on 18-19th January at the Europa Hotel, Belfast. Interviews with Cliodhna Foley Nolan can be arranged on request.
  2. The cross border outbreak plan to deal with an outbreak of foodborne illness being launched at the conference was made possible by funding secured by CAWT from the EU INTERREG IIIA programme with additional support from safefood. The INTERREG IIIA programme is an EU community programme designed to support cross border co-operation, social cohesion and economic development between regions of the EU. The Northern Ireland/Ireland programme covers all of Northern Ireland and the six border counties. It aims to address the economic and social disadvantage that can result from the existence of a border.
  3. Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) is a cross border health and social care partnership comprising the Western and North Eastern areas of the Health Service Executive in the Republic of Ireland and the Southern and Western Health and Social Services Boards in Northern Ireland. CAWT manages a range of cross border health and social care programmes funded by the EU INTERREG IIIA Programme for Ireland/Northern Ireland 2000 – 2006 (Measure 3.2 Health and Well-being).

For further information please contact

Andrew Hyland / Niamh Burdett

WHPR

(01) 6690030

Or

Fiona Gilligan 

safefood

01 448 0600

Or

Sadie Bergin

CAWT

028 71 865191