Sustainable Development and Healthy Environment

Food Safety

 

Introduction

The food safety component of WHO programme in Bangladesh aims at building capacity of government institution, Institute of Public Health of DGHS to develop appropriate and effective management frameworks that ensure safety of food from production to the point of consumption. The food safety programme also emphasizes for the need for monitoring of food safety and foodborne illness with modern risk based approach and techniques.

 

Country situation

The food contamination and food adulteration situation of Bangladesh is a serious public health concern. Unsafe/contaminated food causes many acute and life-long diseases, ranging from diarrhoeal diseases to various forms of cancer. WHO estimates that globally foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal diseases taken together kill about 2.2 million people annually, of them 1.9 million are children. However, in Bangladesh dependable assessment of the public health impact due to food contamination is not available due to absence of a regular monitoring system. Limited data from the ICDDR,B indicates 501 hospital visits per day for treatment of diarrhoea that were attributable to food and water borne causes. General scenario on food contamination demonstrates a widespread non compliance with hygienic practice in food handling both among food producers and food traders such as street food traders.

There is also widespread evidence of food adulteration with harmful chemicals. The chronic effect of such events such as cancer, kidney disorders and birth defects is unlikely to be observed in short term, because the manifestation of the disease only occurs after long-term, low-level exposure. Food contamination and consumers exposure to food hazards have major implication on the food security and consumers heath in Bangladesh. Low level of awareness and weakness in existing Food laws and regulation are also contributing to aggravating the country’s food safety situation.

Protecting public health from such hazards therefore requires a comprehensive risk analysis and risk management approach of food safety from production to consumption. Further, raising awareness, ensuring safe water, sanitation and improved hygiene practice will play a significant role in reducing food borne illness.

 

WHO contribution

WHO is advocating  for strengthening of government capacity to monitor food safety with modern and comprehensive risk management approach for last few years. So far WHO   Bangladesh has:

*      supported the government in capacity building of government institutions through developing training manuals

*     supported in conducting a series of training programmes for the health professionals;

*     developed an appropriate IEC materials for raising awareness among food producers, processors handlers and traders at public and private sector.

*     supported in conducting national and divsional level seminars symposium etc.

 

WHO Current collaboration

WHO and FAO are collaborating in a national project titled Improving Food Safety, Quality and Food control in Bangladesh for provision of a coherent food safety and quality policies and strategies and a modern risk-based food inspection system. During current biennium work-plan special efforts will be given to further strengthen the food borne illness surveillance system in the country. Capacity building for laboratory personnel through WHO-GFN will be introduced in Bangladesh.