The World Health Organisation has estimated that 137,000 people in Africa die every year from contaminated food.
According to the WHO, the African region has the highest burden of food-borne diseases, with more than 91 million people falling ill from consuming contaminated food.
The Chronicle is alarmed at the statistics, especially with the aspect about Children under five years of age, who carry 40% of food borne disease burden, with 125 000 deaths every year.
We would, therefore, urgently call on health authorities to localise the African report and appraise the public on measures to avoid food poisoning in the country.
We further call on other stakeholders to fashion out steps to highlight relevant food safety issues in order to develop interventions and recommendations that can be used to promote safe food practices among Ghanaians.
Local Authorities must tighten safety measures for Food Vendors who are increasing on our streets every day.
The Chronicle cannot sleep, if globally 600 million people representing almost one in 10 people in the world fall ill after eating contaminated food, with 420, 000 dying every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy lives.
To us at The Chronicle, the WHO estimate is indeed a threat on the economy of the country, especially if we factor in a recent World Bank study which finds that the public health cost estimate of food borne diseases in low and middle-income economies alone is a staggering $15.1 billion.
However, The Chronicle, even thought frightened at the development, believes in capabilities of our health authorities with special reference to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) to map out effective strategies to contain the phenomenon in our backyard.
We would like to stress that food-borne diseases are preventable and both policymakers and consumers have an important role to play in safeguarding our health.
The Chronicle would like to further remind the public that food can become contaminated at any point of production and distribution, therefore, there is the need for all food producers, handlers and consumers to understand the importance of adopting basic hygienic practices when buying, selling and preparing food to protect their health and that of the bigger community.
We are glad that the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has been supporting the efforts of the government of Ghana in improving the safety and nutritional balance of food, through for example, collaboration with the Food & Drugs Authority on ‘Healthy Street Food Incentives’ to boost the safety and nutritional balance of street food.
The Chronicle would like to call on the Food & Drugs Authority, Veterinary Services Directorate, Plant Protection & Regulatory Services, Ghana Standards Authority and the Ministry of Fisheries & Aquaculture Development and others to marshal all the necessary human, financial and logistical resources to strengthen food safety control systems in the country.
With that done, we can be assured of safe food on the streets and in our homes.