Unsafe Food Costs Developing Countries $110 Bn Annually In Medical Expenses, Reveals WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled a startling statistic, saying, developing countries are spending an estimated $110 billion each year on medical expenses due to the consumption of unsafe food. 

This revelation underscores the critical need for enhanced food safety measures worldwide.

In light of these findings, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has urged stakeholders in the food supply chain to take deliberate actions to cultivate a culture of food safety.

Speaking at the 2024 World Food Safety Day, which adopted the theme “Food Safety: Prepare for the Unexpected,” Adeyeye emphasized the importance of proactive measures to mitigate food hazards and risks.

According to WHO estimates, globally, one in ten people fall ill, and 420,000 die annually after consuming contaminated food. 

This results in the loss of 33 million years of healthy life, with children under five and other vulnerable groups being the most affected. 

These statistics highlight the severe public health and economic repercussions of foodborne illnesses.

Adeyeye pointed out that food safety is not only vital for public health but also crucial for economic development and food security. 

She stressed that ensuring food safety is a shared responsibility that spans from farm to table.

 Each stakeholder, from producers to consumers, must play their part to guarantee that the food we eat is safe.

The theme for World Food Safety Day 2024, “Food Safety: Prepare for the Unexpected,” reflects the need for preparedness in handling food safety incidents. 

WHO and the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) are encouraging all stakeholders in the food supply chain to be ready to address unexpected threats to food safety.

 This includes accidents, inadequate controls, food fraud, and natural events that can compromise food safety.

Adeyeye highlighted that food safety is a collective responsibility. Everyone, from policymakers and food safety authorities to farmers and food business operators, needs to contribute to preventing, detecting, and managing foodborne risks. 

Consumers, too, have a vital role to play in ensuring the safety of the food they consume.

The WHO World Food Safety Day 2024 communication toolkit suggests that governments commit to developing or updating national food safety emergency response plans. 

This includes strengthening national food control systems, enhancing surveillance and coordination capacities, and improving communication with food businesses and the public. 

Such measures are essential for being prepared to manage food safety incidents effectively.

In response to these challenges, the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has implemented various programs aimed at eliminating, eradicating, preventing, and controlling diseases.

 Notably, the National Integrated Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Surveillance and Response have been developed to enhance preparedness and rapid response to emerging and re-emerging foodborne diseases.

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