Thursday November 14, 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 Reports Progress in Containing Ebola Outbreak in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

It is impossible to predict where the outbreak is going to go next, said Ryan.

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The executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies, Michael Ryan, says he is largely optimistic that aid workers are getting control of the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo. VOA

The World Health Organization reports progress in containing the Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, but says many challenges to its elimination remain.  WHO reports the number of cases in the outbreak now stands at 3,207, including 2,144 deaths.

The executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies, Michael Ryan, says he is largely optimistic that aid workers are getting control of the Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo.  But, he says, it is impossible to say the outbreak is over.

“It is not.  It is impossible to predict where the outbreak is going to go next,” said Ryan. “But… I do–I would stand over the fact that we have significantly contained the virus in a much smaller geographic area.  Now we have to kill the virus.  The problem is, it is back in areas that are deeply insecure.”

In fact, the virus has come full circle.  Ryan notes the disease has moved from Butembo and other urban areas to the remote, rural town of Mangina, the epicenter of the outbreak.  He says the virus is back where it began when the Ebola outbreak was declared August 1, 2018.

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But, he says, it is impossible to say the outbreak is over. Pixabay

“So, essentially the virus is back in the same zone,” said Ryan. “So, the factors that allowed that virus to transmit at low intensity for a number of months, have not changed.  Deep insecurity, reticence amongst the population, distrust and many other factors continue to make this a very dangerous situation.  But a situation, for which I believe we are making significant progress at this time.”

Ryan says WHO is increasing the scale of its operation, engaging in active surveillance across North Kivu province and actively seeking new cases and tracing contacts to keep the virus from spreading.

He says more than 230,000 people have been vaccinated against the deadly disease and more lives are being saved among people infected with the virus who are coming to the treatment centers.

He says the fatality rate among the nearly 800 patients currently in Ebola treatment units is less than one third – a significantly better outcome than the two-thirds fatality rate reported for the disease overall.

Also Read- One in Five People in Conflict-Affected Areas Live with Mental Health Condition

Still, this is the biggest Ebola outbreak in Africa since the epidemic across three West African countries in 2014 killed more than 11,000 people. (VOA)