"Government is in advanced stages of streamlining the food control system by transforming the National Drug Authority into a modern and effective National Food and Drug Authority."
PIC: The chairperson of Codex Alimentarius Commission, Pernet Ochieng addresses the meeting. (Credit: Nicholas Kajoba)
KIGO - State minister for health in charge of general duties, Sarah Opendi has said that government will table the draft National Food and Drug Authority Bill soon in Parliament.
Opendi was opening a two-day workshop on food security organized by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), East African Community (EAC) and Switzerland in Kigo.
"Government is in advanced stages of streamlining the food control system by transforming the National Drug Authority into a modern and effective National Food and Drug Authority in order to ensure better coordination and enforcement," said the minister.
She said the impact of unsafe food is very grave and has severe implications on the nutrition and improved economic status of people.
"As trade in food becomes even much more globalized, outbreak of foodborne illnesses, trade disputes and food recall are likely to increase. Uganda remains in the spotlight most especially with regard to managing and responding to food safety occurrences.”
Opendi said matters of Codex are of national importance in the country and this has been demonstrated through engagement of key stakeholders from all the sectors. She called on different countries to ensure that they prioritize food safety initiatives and influence the Codex process and activities.
"In Uganda and Africa as general we have common food safety challenges and a forum like this would enable us develop strategies for improving our hygiene status that will lead to the betterment of our citizens.”
Uganda, Albania, Japan and Thailand conducted pilot studies on the foodborne burden of disease in 2012-2014. As a result of the studies conducted, all stakeholders can contribute to improvements in food safety throughout the food chain by incorporating the estimates into policy development at national and regional level.
According to Minister Opendi (pictured above, left), food hygiene is one of the priority Codex committees for Uganda and several initiatives have been undertaken by government to improve hygiene of key commodity value chains not limited to fruits and vegetables, fish, milk and meat.
"The focus on Food hygiene is of significant importance since the deterioration of the food occurs along the entire food chain hence highlighting the need to put in place key hygiene controls at every stage in order to ensure the safety and suitability of food for consumption.”
The chairperson of Codex Alimentarius Commission, Pernet Ochieng, said the meeting brought together policymakers and food safety experts from the region.
"The objective of this meeting was to raise awareness on the importance of Codex in food safety, trade and public policy as well as gain support from policymakers in the region in order to plan and budget for food safety programmes in their budgets, "she said.
Ochieng, a senior food safety official in Switzerland, said the meeting presented an opportunity for networking and share approaches in food safety in Uganda and the region.
The meeting brought together policymakers and food safety experts from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. It was also being attended by the Codex Coordinating Committee for Africa (CCAFRICA) Coordinator, Intergovernmental Authority on Development and experts from India and Grenada and Papua New Guinea.
According to the estimates provided by the WHO Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG), the most frequent causes of foodborne illness were diarrhoeal disease agents, particularly novovirus and Campylobacter species which caused 230,000 deaths.
Other major causes of foodborne death were Salmonella Typhi, Taenia solium, Hepatitis A Virus and Aflatoxin.