Health Alert: 137,000 people in Africa die annually from contaminated food

By Jessica Ahedor

Dr Owen-Laws Kaluwa — WHO Country representative to Ghana
Dr Owen-Laws Kaluwa — WHO Country representative to Ghana

A World Health Organizations latest report on food security has revealed, the African region has the highest burden of food-borne diseases with about 91 million people falling ill from consuming contaminated food. As such, an estimated 137,000 people in Africa die annually from contaminated food.

According to the WHO representative in Ghana, Dr. Owen Kaluwa  who was speaking at the maiden commemoration of World Food Safety Day in Accra said  Children under five years of age carry 40% of foodborne disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year in the region. Dr. Kaluwa, explained, globally 600 million, equivalent to  one in every 10 people in the world fall ill after eating contaminated food, the figure has 420, 000 people dying every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life annually.

He quoted the recent World Bank study report that finds public health cost estimate of foodborne diseases in low and middle-income countries alone at a staggering stance of $15.1 billion, and has called for policy decisions to help address the situation.

On his part, the Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for Africa for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Dr. Abebe Haile-Gabriel has asked for consented efforts to scale-up food safety advocacy to address the situation in the region. He urged the sector players to mobilize resources for processes on its TCP to be finalize to support and strengthen food safety control system with, Veterinary Services Directorate, Plant Protection & Regulatory Services, Ghana Standards Authority and the Ministry of Fisheries & Aquaculture Development to help improve food security and healthy nutritional balanced food for all.

Now the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Delesi Mimi Darko, emphasized on the need for urgent action to be taken to prevent food contamination “as any adverse food safety incident may have global negative effects on public health, trade and economy.” She admonished the players for an improved food safety results in reduced food-borne illness, protect customers, and improve one’s stands within a community to enhance consumer confidence.

This year’s commemoration was Themed ‘Food Safety, Everyone’s Business’, the day was to highlight the relevant food safety issues in order to develop interventions and recommendations that could be used to promote safe food practices among the populace.





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