Saturday February 16, 2019

Is your food safe? Food contamination root cause of more than 200 diseases

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

The WHO will celebrate World Health Day on April 7 as a day dedicated to food safety this year. It will throw light on the global threats posed by unsafe foods, and the need for coordinated, cross-border action across the entire food supply chain.

Food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution has become a commercial business altogether. These changes introduce multiple new opportunities for food to become contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals.

Unsafe food is the root cause of more than 200 diseases ranging from diarrhea to cancer. Examples of unsafe food include under-cooked foods of animal origin, fruits and vegetables contaminated with feces, and shellfish containing marine biotoxins. Unsafe food is also a threat to the economies. Germany’s 2011 E.coli outbreak reportedly caused a loss of $ 1.3 billion for farmers and industries and $ 236 million in emergency aid payments to 22 European Union Member States.

Some findings of food borne diseases are listed below-

• There were an estimated 582 million cases of 22 different food borne enteric diseases and 351 000 associated deaths;

• The enteric disease agents responsible for most deaths were Salmonella Typhi (52 000 deaths), enteropathogenic E. coli (37 000) and norovirus (35 000);

• The African region recorded the highest disease burden for enteric food borne disease, followed by South-East Asia

• Over 40% people suffering from diseases caused by contaminated food were children aged under 5 years.

Robust food safety steps should be taken not just at national but global level using international platforms, like the joint WHO-FAO International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN), to ensure effective and rapid communication during food safety emergencies. Governments of various countries should put in effort to safeguard against chemical or microbial contamination of food.

“It often takes a crisis for the collective consciousness on food safety to be stirred and any serious response to be taken,” says Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima, Director of WHO’s Department of Food Safety.

 

Next Story

WHO Makes Progress In Controlling Ebola In Congo

In addition, 2,600 health care workers in Uganda have been vaccinated.

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Health workers treat an unconfirmed Ebola patient inside a MSF (Doctors Without Borders)-supported Ebola Treatment Center (ETC) in Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 3, 2018. VOA

Six months after the outbreak of Ebola was declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, the World Health Organization is expressing cautious optimism that it is making headway in controlling the spread of the deadly virus.

Latest figures reported by the WHO show 752 cases of Ebola, including 465 deaths.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, says progress in containing the spread of the virus is due to a number of public health measures, including the training of health workers on infection prevention and control, closer engagement with communities, case investigation and contact tracing.

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Medical staff are sterilized before entering the isolation unit at a hospital in Bundibugyo, western Uganda, on Aug. 17, 2018, where there is one suspected case of Ebola. VOA

She says the use of a vaccine and promising new drugs have been a boon to these efforts.

“I feel optimistic,” Moeti said. “I am very clear that we need to continue this work. We need to make sure that in the places where we have made progress, we build on this progress and we do not go back. And, we are being very, very conscious of the fact that we need to invest to improve the preparedness both in the DRC areas that are highest at risk and, most importantly, in the surrounding countries that are at risk.”

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Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) workers talk to a worker at an isolation facility, prepared to receive suspected Ebola cases, at the Mbandaka General Hospital, in Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 20, 2018. VOA

The risk of the virus spreading to countries like Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan is very high because of the heavy cross-border traffic among the countries, Moeti said. However, she added, surveillance and preparedness activities have been enhanced on both sides of the border.

Also Read: WHO Calls for Accelerated Action To Eliminate Cervical Cancer

She says there is extensive monitoring at border crossings and improvements have been made in screening people for the virus. In addition, 2,600 health care workers in Uganda have been vaccinated. Moeti said a similar vaccination campaign began two days ago in South Sudan. (VOA)