A total of 1,914 Ghanaians have suffered from various forms of food poisoning between the years 2013 and 2021, according to the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
Out of this figure were 60 cases of food-borne disease outbreaks, with a total of 36 deaths.
Food-borne diseases are caused by contamination of food and occur at any stage of the food production, delivery, and consumption chain.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of FDA, Mrs Delese M. Darko, surveillance of food-borne diseases was becoming an increasingly high priority on the public health agenda in many countries.
“And such surveillance helped estimate the burden of food-borne diseases, assess relative impacts on health and economics, and evaluate prevention and control programmes,” she stated.
She 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 template addresses the goal of enhancing the protection of the country’s agricultural industry and food security through increased prevention, detection, response, and recovery planning.
Food safety continues to be a major concern worldwide. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 600 million people, almost 1 in 10 people fall ill after eating contaminated food each year, resulting in 420 000 deaths and the loss of 33 million healthy life years
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 foodborne diseases.
From 2016 to 2018, there have they retrieved the remains of the lady.
Meanwhile, the deceased’s remains have since been exhumed and deposited at the Cape Coast been a total of 29 reported foodborne outbreaks in Ghana, with a total of 852 persons affected and 19 deaths. Out of the 29 outbreaks, 2018 had the highest number of 14 outbreaks and the highest number of deaths with 11 people recorded.
To address the trend, the FDA has called for effective collaboration to ensure surveillance and prompt food-borne disease outbreak response across the country.
The training was to discuss issues concerning food-borne diseases in Ghana and the need to keep appropriate data on food-borne diseases.
Mrs Darko emphasised the importance of early outbreak detection and response as a key information source for 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 harmonised, systematic data collection process for food-borne diseases and also makes it a core function for the 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 that, 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.
Source: The Indenpendent Ghana