Participants at the World Environmental Health Day programme held at Faculty of Public Health, UCH Ibadan, recently.
National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have been asked to rise to the challenge of ensuring food safety in the country. Persons involved in the food supply chain must also avoid food contamination to promote a healthy population. These were key messages as issues of food safety and food security formed the focus of this year’s World Environmental Health Day Programme organised by the Environmental Health Sciences Department Faculty of Public Health, College of Medicine, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan in collaboration with Environmental Health Scientists Association of Nigeria (EHSAN) and Nigeria Network for Action and Awareness for Environmental Health (NINAAFEH).
The theme of this year’s event is “Global Food Safety and Sustainability.”
Professor Godson Ana, National President of EHSAN, said the event was organised to carry out public sensitisation and create awareness on safe food handling and preparation. The event was also to build and strengthen capacity of food vendors within UCH on food safety and hygiene.
“As stakeholders in the environmental health field, it is important to note that the environment must be properly take care of because we are all inhabitants of the environment. Food is one of the essential requirements of life. Everyone needs food in the right quantity and quality. Every unwholesome food portends danger for the health of the population,” Professor Ana said.
“If food is not well prepared, stored or handled, then there is possibility of contamination with physical chemical and biological agents. If food is contaminated, you have food-borne illnesses or food poisoning. The essence of this programme is to raise awareness for all who are involved in food preparation and handling to be careful: from personal hygiene, to preparation and packaging, to reduce issue of food-borne illnesses.”
He emphasised that the need to raise awareness was “so that we can stay healthy and live long.”
Professor Ana said, “We are bringing the stakeholders together in Environment and Health together. NAFDAC is here, NESREA is here. We want to ensure that some of the loopholes and lapses among the regulatory agencies will be brought to bare for them to see for themselves.”
Dr Oladapo Okare, Head, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, said the event is not just to publicise something new, but to prime government authorities, professionals and the people on practices as simple as handwashing that will improve public health.
Keynote speaker, Professor Andrew Omojola, at the programme, said “Food safety is being challenged nowadays by the global dimensions of food supply chains.With fading international borders and global trade liberalization policies, there is need for more stringent measures to address food safety.”
The International Federation of Environmental Health sets aside September 26 as World Environmental Health Day.
By: Paul Omorogbe