Are you eating right? 10 interesting facts on food safety highlighted by WHO

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In coming times, the great majority of people will experience a food or water borne disease at some point in their lives. This highlights the importance of making sure the food we eat is not contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins and chemicals.

Here are ten interesting facts on food safety

1. Millions of people fall ill every year and many die as a result of eating unsafe food. Diarrheal diseases alone kill an estimated 1.5 million children annually, and most of these illnesses are due to contaminated drinking water.
2. Food contaminated with heavy metals or with naturally occurring toxins can also cause long-term health problems including cancer and neurological disorders.
3.  For infants, pregnant women, the sick and the elderly, the consequences of foodborne disease are usually more severe and may be fatal.
4, Today’s food supply is complex and involves a range of different stages before the food reaches the consumers. There are numerous stages at which contamination can take place.
5. Globalization of food production and trade has many stages in which it is packed and then transported to various places. This is such a complex process which prevents from finding the culprit of foodborne disease.
6. Different governmental departments and agencies,  need to collaborate and communicate with each other and engage with the civil society including consumer groups.
7. Food contamination is not just harmful to health but also to – it undermines food exports, tourism, livelihoods of food handlers and economic development, both in developed and developing countries.
8. Overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in agriculture and animal husbandry, in addition to human clinical uses, is one of the factors leading to the emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance.
9.   Achieving food safety is a multi-sectoral effort requiring expertise from a range of different disciplines – toxicology, microbiology, parasitology, nutrition, health economics, and human and veterinary medicine.
10.People should make informed and wise food choices. They should know common food hazards and how to handle food safely, using the information provided in food labelling.

(Content: WHO)

  • Jagpreet Kaur Sandhu

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WHO Accuses Tobacco Industry of Luring Children Into Usage of Tobacco By Marketing Practices

WHO is launching a campaign to alert young people to the dangers they face from the industry’s manipulative practices

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Children wear strings of cigarette and chewable tobacco and rehearse for a play on World No Tobacco Day in Gauhati, India. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

The World Health Organization accuses the tobacco industry of devious tactics to get children and young people hooked on their deadly tobacco and nicotine products.  In advance of World No Tobacco Day (May 31), the WHO is launching a campaign to alert young people to the dangers they face from the industry’s manipulative practices.

More than 40 million young people aged 13 to 15 smoke and use other tobacco products. The World Health Organization says the tobacco industry tries to get children and young people hooked on tobacco early in life, knowing this will turn them into life-long smokers. Unfortunately, WHO says many smokers do not live very long.  Every year, it notes millions of people have their lives cut short because of cancers, heart disease and other smoking-related illnesses.

Coordinator of WHO’s No Tobacco Unit, Vinayak Prasad, says the tobacco industry invests more than $9 billion a year to advertise its products.  He says much of this huge budget targets young people with attractive promotional campaigns. “At the moment, they are spending a million dollars an hour, which is by the time we finish our press conference, that is a million dollars spent,” said Prasad.  “And, why are they doing it?  They are doing it to find replacements users.  Eight million premature deaths every year.  So, they need to find new replacements.”

WHO says the industry sets its sights on the next generation of users by targeting children and young people in markets where tobacco products are not regulated and they can be manipulated easily. WHO is launching a new kit for school students aged 13 to 17 to protect them from the tobacco industry’s exploitative practices.  WHO Director of Health Promotion, Ruediger Krech says the kit alerts young people to the industry’s devious tactics and teaches them to say no.

Smoking Tobacco
WHO tool kit exposes tactics such as parties and concerts hosted by the tobacco and related industries. Pixabay

“The tool kit exposes tactics such as parties and concerts hosted by the tobacco and related industries, e-cigarette flavors that attract youth in like bubble-gum and candy, e-cigarette representatives presenting in schools, and product placement in popular youth streaming shows,” said Krech.

WHO is calling on all sectors of society to prevent the tobacco industry from preying on youth.  To reach a young audience, the agency is spreading its no tobacco message on  TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube and other social media. Health officials urge schools, celebrities and influencers to reject all offers of sponsorship from the industry.  They call on TV and streaming services to stop showing tobacco or e-cigarette use on screen.

Also Read: Read PM Modi’s Letter To Indians amid COVID war

They say governments should ban all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship and should enact strict tobacco control laws. (VOA)

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COVID-19 Restrictions Cause Disruption in Vaccination Programs: WHO, Other Organisations

Vaccination Programes have been disrupted because of the restrictions imposed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic

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A health worker injects a man with Ebola vaccine in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Aug. 5, 2019. VOA

Nearly 80 million children under age 1 are at higher risk of preventable diseases such as measles, cholera and polio because of the disruption of routine vaccination programs, according to a report released Friday by the World Health Organization and other global organizations.

Immunization campaigns have been disrupted in half of the 129 countries surveyed around the world in March and April, according to data produced by the WHO, UNICEF, the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Of the 68 countries, 27 have suspended their measles initiatives. Thirty-eight countries have suspended campaigns to vaccinate children against polio.

The COVID-19 pandemic is “walking back progress” that was made in vaccinating children around the world, putting children and their families at greater risk of diseases that routine vaccinations can prevent, Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, said.

“More children in more countries are now protected against more vaccine-preventable diseases than at any point in history,” Berkley said in a statement. “Due to COVID-19, this immense progress is now under threat, risking the resurgence of diseases like measles and polio. Not only will maintaining immunization programs prevent more outbreaks, but it will also ensure we have the infrastructure we need to roll out an eventual COVID-19 vaccine on a global scale.”

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Experts said a decline in vaccinations in one country could have consequences for other countries.VOA

Fearing doctor visits

Routine immunization has been hindered for many reasons.

Some parents are no longer taking their children to clinics and hospitals out of fear of exposure to the virus, while others are unable to do so because of lockdowns.

The delivery of vaccines and required protective equipment has been delayed in many countries because of a cutback in commercial flights and chartered plane availability.

Health care workers also have been relocated to help fight the pandemic, leaving fewer to administer vaccinations.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that to combat this decline in immunizations, countries need to intensify efforts to find and track unvaccinated children, address gaps in delivery and develop innovative solutions.

The consequences if countries are unable to give routine immunizations, “can be deadly,” Fore said.

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Experts are concerned that deaths from normally preventable diseases could surpass coronavirus deaths if vaccination efforts are not reinstated.

Berkley, of Gavi, requested $7.4 billion for vaccination efforts over the next five years.

Experts said a decline in vaccinations in one country could have consequences for other countries.

Dr. Kate O’Brien, director of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, said inoculation efforts should be viewed as a “global public good” because “pathogens do not recognize borders,” and if one country is at risk of an outbreak, all countries are at risk. (VOA)

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Guwahati-based NGO Launches ‘Dhara Helpline’ For Free Psychological Consultations Amid Pandemic

Guwahati-based NGO has launched the 'Dhara Helpline' to provide free psychological consultations for masses

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NGO Global Pandemic Response Forum (GPRF) launched the 'Dhara Helpline' to provide free psychological consultations. Pixabay

In a bid to help Corona Warriors on the forefront of the global battle against the pandemic, Guwahati-based NGO Global Pandemic Response Forum (GPRF) launched the ‘Dhara Helpline’ to provide free psychological consultations. It has now opened the helpline to the general public with the freedom of “Pay as you wish” option.

With more than 150 professionals from across the country, the platform offers services 24×7 in English, Hindi, Assamese, Bodo, Marathi, Khasi, Bengali, Garo and Tamil.

Dharitri Nath, Project Head, Dhara Helpline said: “On May 14, the Director General of WHO made a worldwide appeal to immediately increase access to mental health services or risk a massive increase in mental health conditions in the coming months. As the second highest populous nation, a major component of our country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic will need to include support for the masses with their mental health needs immediately.”

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Dhara Helpline will make efforts to make mental health counseling accessible to all. Pixabay

She added: “At Dhara Helpline we have been making efforts to make mental health counseling accessible to all, especially women and children, and the opening of the helpline for the general public was a natural progression for us.

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While the Dhara Helpline to the Corona Warriors will remain free, we have added a ‘Pay as you wish’ option for the general public to make the initiative sustainable. It is open for all and accessible from anywhere in the country.” Dhara Helpline for Corona Warriors is +91 92054 67567 (4am to 2am daily) while for general public is +91 2239560964. (IANS)