The World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti has revealed that no fewer than 2m people die annually from unsafe food globally.
The kids, pregnant women and the elderly more affected. Moeti made the statement at a talk-shop on 2015 World Health Day organized by the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) and Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in Lagos with the theme: ‘’Food Safety’’.
At the event, the Vice Chancellor of NOUN, Prof Vincent Tenebe, sought for partnership with major food stakeholders including farmers to tackle the issue of unsafe food in the country thus reduce death associated with it. The WHO regional director whose speech was read by the vice chairman of YMCA, Mr. Akindele Akinsotu, said the theme highlights the urgent need for government organizations, food businesses and consumers to put measures in place that would improve food safety from the point of production to consumption.
His words: ‘’Unsafe food is linked to the death of an estimated 2million people annually and the Africa region is without exception. Infants, young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with an underlying illness are particularly vulnerable’’. According to him, in 2014, there were more than 100,000 cases of cholera in 22 countries resulting in over 1,700 death stressing ‘’so far this year, cholera outbreaks in 13 countries have led to over 200 death out of more than 13,000 cases’’.
The health expert noted that food contaminated by harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances can lead to a wide range of health problems which is responsible for over 200 diseases, including typhoid fever, diarrhoea and cancers. He called on African governments to prioritise food safety, align policies in agriculture, trade, health, education, social protection and mobilize adequate resources to make food safe.
Moeti explained that WHO would continue to collaborate with the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Organization for Animal Health and other partners to ensure food is safe ‘’from farm to plate’’ in the African region. In his remarks at the event, Prof Tenebe who was represented by the Director, Regional Training Institute for Open and Distance Learning (RETIDAL), Prof Vincent Ogunlela, said the theme underscore the importance of food safety which is a global challenge. Prof Vincent lauded YMCA for partnering with NOUN to promote food safety noting that the issue of food security is important thus the need to adhere to certain conditions while handling food.