Food Borne Diseases Health Threat

| April 15, 2015

The acting deputy permanent secretary for preventive health services, Dr Haruna Baba Jibril says there is urgent need for all to put measures in place that will improve food safety.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting in Gaborone, Dr Jibril said safe and nutritious foods could significantly improve the health and well-being of individuals and the population as well as decrease chronic disease and associated health-care costs for society.

He said for children and adolescents, safe food and healthy eating was essential for optimum growth and cognitive development.

He added that it was evident that effective food safety and quality management systems from ‘farm to plate’ were key, to not only safeguarding the health and well-being of people, but to also fostering economic development and improving livelihoods by promoting access to domestic, regional and international food markets.

Dr Jibril, however, lamented that despite concerted efforts by governments all over the world to improve the safety of food supply, food-borne diseases remained a significant health risk. He stated that food-borne diseases were widespread and represented a significant threat to health and economies of countries.

He noted that 70 per cent of the 1,5 billion episodes of diarrhea in the world annually were caused by biological or chemical contamination of food. He added that food-borne diseases were estimated to affect 30 per cent of the population in industrialised countries at some time in a given year.

Dr Jibril said in order to meet development and sustainability goals, food should be safe and wholesome to consume. He added that in the last two decades, episodes of food-borne disease accidents and outbreaks have raised concern about the effectiveness of food control systems in protecting consumers.

“Unease over microbiological and chemical contaminants of food additives, pesticides and veterinary drugs, as well as heightened consumer interest in diet – related health issues have also raised the profile of food control systems,” he said.

Dr Jibril also pointed out that the Ministry of Health was reviewing the Food Control Act of 1993 in order to broaden the food safety scope through the establishment of a food safety authority whose mandate would be to oversee and coordinate all food safety measures.

“The proposed new food law will address harmonisation of food control systems with the new emphasis on risk analysis,” he added. For her part, Dr Felicitas Zawaira, a representative from the World Health Organisation (WHO), said there was an urgent need for all food handlers and consumers to understand the importance of adopting hygienic practices when buying, selling and preparing food to protect their health and that of the community.

She noted that WHO has come up with five basic steps of ensuring that food was safe, which were keeping hands clean, food preparation surfaces and storage clean, separating raw and cooked food, cooking thoroughly, keeping food at safe temperature and using safe water and raw materials.

Dr Zawaira called on the government to strengthen focus on food safety, and that it should align policies in different sectors such as agriculture, trade, health, education, social protection and mobilise adequate financial resources to make food safe for all.

“Align food guidelines with codex standards, building and maintaining adequate food systems and infrastructure will also contribute enormously towards improving food safety,” she added.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Medical/Health Care

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