Monday, June 21, 2021

420,000 people die of food contamination annually, 600m fall ill – WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) says an estimated six hundred million people fall ill after eating contaminated food, while some four hundred and twenty thousand people die of same cause every year.

The Head of Mission and Representative of World Health Organization , Nigeria, Dr Walter Kazadi Mulombo, who made the disclosure recently in Abuja, said ‘everyone irrespective of their age, gender, health and economic status has the right to have access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food,’ adding that safe food assures improved nutrition, promotes health and vitality of families and communities.

Mulombo explained that in order to address the challenge, ‘in 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 73/250 proclaiming 7 June as World Food Safety Day, taking into account the global burden of food borne diseases, which affect individuals of all ages, in particular children under five years and persons living in low-income regions.’

‘The resolution acknowledges that “there is no food security without food safety and that in a world where the food supply chain has become more complex, any adverse food safety incident may have global negative effects on public health, trade and the economy.’

He said though it is evident that COVID-19 has not been transmitted by food, the pandemic has sharpened the focus on food safety-related issues, such as hygiene, antimicrobial resistance, zoonotic diseases, climate change, food fraud and the potential benefits of digitalizing food systems, adding that ‘it has also highlighted weaknesses or vulnerabilities in food production and control systems.’

He said in recognition of the fact that women are very important players in the promotion of food safety and home hygiene, in 2019, the WHO trained 345 women leaders from Edo and Ondo States on food hygiene and domestic sanitation towards the prevention of Lassa fever.

‘We are currently working with health authorities to advocate for food safety as an important component of health security and for integrating food safety into national policies and programmes in line with the International Health Regulations,’ he added.

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