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1,914 Ghanaians Suffer Food Poisoning Between 2013 and 2021

A total of 1,914 Ghanaians suffered from various forms of food poising between the year 2013 and 2021, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has said.

Out of the figure were 60 cases of food-borne disease outbreaks with a total of 36 deaths.

Food-borne diseases comprise a broad spectrum of diseases and accounts for a significant number of morbidity and mortality issues worldwide.

The World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015 reported that one in 10 people fall ill each year from eating contaminated food and 420,000 people die each year as a result.

Ghanaians who suffered from food poisoning in a pilot project conducted in 2015 reported different illnesses such as viral hepatitis, cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever and other food born diseases.

To address the trend, the FDA has called for effective collaboration to ensure surveillance and prompt food-borne disease outbreak response in the country.

Mrs Delese M. Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of FDA, said surveillance of food-borne diseases was becoming an increasingly high priority in the public health agenda in many countries.

Such surveillance helped estimate the burden of food-borne diseases, assessed relative impacts on health and economics, and the evaluation of prevention and control programmes, she stated.

Mrs Darko made the observation at a two-day training workshop on the implementation of an integrated Food-borne Disease Surveillance System and Food Safety Emergency Response Plan (FoSERP).

The training was to discuss issues concerning food-borne diseases in Ghana and the need to keep appropriate data on food-borne diseases.

She underscored the need for rapid detection of and response to outbreaks, a major source of information for conducting risk assessment, and more broadly, for risk management and communication.

The CEO said changes in food production and distribution methods were making food safety a critical and fundamental component of public health.

“The Ghana Health Service (GHS) in 2019 reviewed the 2nd Edition of the Integrate Disease Surveillance and Response In Ghana (IDSR) to incorporate the surveillance of food-borne diseases.

“The 3rd Edition of the IDSR provides for a harmonized, systematic data collection process for food-borne diseases and also make it a core function for Disease Surveillance Officer (DSO) of the GHS to collect data and report on foodborne diseases,” the CEO stated and commended the initiative.

Mrs Darko said taking a cue from that, the FDA in 2021 spearheaded the development of a Food Safety Emergency Response Plan (FoSERP), which outlined how food safety emergencies, including food-borne disease outbreaks were to be addressed in a coordinated manner.

“The implementation of these two documents makes it imperative for this training today,” she added.

Mrs Joycelyn Adelaide N.K Egyakwa-Amusah, Head, Food Safety Coordination and Consumer Education Department, FDA, said the need for collaboration was important as it would enable Ghana to meet the Joint External Evaluation (JEE) requirements for food safety whiles enabling compliance with the International Health Regulations (IHR).

The training, which was held in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) saw Public Health and Disease Surveillance Officers selected across the country participating.

Participants were taken through an overview of Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response in Ghana, Food-borne disease surveillance, data collection and reporting, handling food safety emergencies, electronic data capturing and transmitting and food-borne disease outbreak investigations-environmental assessment.

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