resulting from the consumption of contaminated food and water in Africa is around 700,000 annually.
The incidence of diarrhoea caused by
consumption of contaminated food and water was estimated at up to five
episodes per child per year.
Dr. Daniel Kertesz, World Health Organisation (WHO), Country Representative for Ghana, disclosed these, at the opening of
the 18th Session of Food and Agriculture Organisation
(FAO) and WHO of the Codex Coordinating Committee for Africa, on Monday
He said the Disability Adjusted Life Years lost to food and water borne diarrhoea was 4.1 per 1000 globally as compared to
5.7-7.1 per 1000 in Africa.
Dr. Kertesz noted that the year 2008 saw an
unprecedented number of food borne diseases caused by microbes and
chemical contaminants including pesticides residues and mycotoxins.
He said these included cholera in many countries, typhoid fever and
botulism, pesticide poisoning through beans and vegetables, bromide
poisoning; diarrhoea and food poisoning.
Dr. Kertesz said it was worrying that the
multi-drug resistant strains of the causative agents of food borne
diseases have been reported.
He said some African countries were affected by emergencies associated
with melamine contaminated milk, milk products and pork products
contaminated with dioxin, produced from pigs slaughtered in Ireland.
Dr. Kertesz attributed this to huge gaps in the
laboratory capacity in the countries and noted that WHO regional
Committee for Africa would adopt a paper
on the establishment of centres of excellence
for disease surveillance, public health laboratories and food and drugs
He said there was a growing tendency to shift from eating home-prepared
food to consuming ready-to-eat foods, which he noted, meant that a single
error from a food handler could have far reaching consequences.
Dr. Kertesz said, “hygiene of vending operation
is a major source of concern in food control", and that the current
global food crisis has worsened an already precarious food situation.
He advised consumers to use the scarce food at their disposal safely,
effectively and efficiently.
He said against this background, the WHO regional committee for Africa adopted resolution AFR/RC53/R5 in 2003 on
the Regional Food Safety Strategy and its accompanying resolution in
August 2006 with a guiding principles of a
holistic and risked based actions which applied the risk analysis
Mr Edouard Tapsoba, FAO Assistant Director General, said food
safety was a priority of FAO, particularly in Africa and details of the
agenda on capacity building indicated the importance that FAO and WHO
attached to capacity building activities in the area of food safety.
He said these activities covered all the components of the food safety
management system with emphasis on technical regulations and legislation,
risk-based inspection services for national markets as well as imports
and experts of food commodities, training of food control officials laboratory testing and monitoring and
Mr Tapsoba said the
assistance provided allowed governments to take full responsibility for
implementing all measures necessary for ensuring food safety in
collaboration with the private sector and civil society.
He said the ultimate goal of these food safety related activities was to
contribute to the overall food security for Africa by ensuring that food
produced and sold throughout the continent and beyond meet safety and
quality requirements consonant with internationally agreed standards, in
particular with the applicable Codex Alimentararius
Mr Tapsoba noted that
one could never stress enough the fact that the international market had
become more demanding in terms of safety and sanitary requirements.
He said progress had been made to improve food control systems to enhance
the safety of food commodities sold on both the domestic and
Mr. Tapsoba said these challenges would require
political awareness and commitment at the highest level of government so
that these issues could be adequately addressed by, and receive proper
support from, higher-level decision makers.
The FAO/WHO Coordination Committee for Africa (CCAFRICA) is one of the
six regional coordinating committees for the Codex Alimentarius
Commission (CAC), established by FAO and WHO in 1964 to protect the
health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the international food
trade by developing standards and guidelines.
The meeting was to enable participant from the Africa
region to exchange recent information on the food control situation as
well as emerging issues in the region including trans-boundary food