World Health Day 2015: From farm to plate, make food safe, April 2015

Ramallah -– The Palestinian Ministry of Health, supported by WHO, celebrated World Health Day 2015 with events in the West Bank and Gaza on April 7 focusing on food safety under the theme, “From farm to the plate”.

In Ramallah, Dr Asad Ramlawi, the MoH Director General of Primary Health Care and Public Health, and WHO head of Office in Palestine Dr Gerald Rockenschaub opened the ceremony.  Dr Rockenschaub highlighted the importance of food safety, with an estimated 2 Million deaths per year globally being linked to unsafe food. “Unsafe food, contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical toxins causes more than 200 diseases, ranging from diarrhea to cancer. WHO works with national and international partners to prevent, detect and respond to potential food borne emergencies and to strengthen food safety systems locally and internationally”, he said. Representatives of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), World Food Program (WFP), and the Palestinian ministries of agriculture, national economy, education, and the Palestinian Standards Institute and the Association for Consumer Protection participated in the event. Each spoke about the importance of food safety from their perspective and its impact on public health. The speakers stressed the importance of coordination among the different actors and the need to develop bi-laws for public health law and food safety. The main event was followed by a technical meeting of participants from different institutions presenting their respective capacities and the challenges face.

In Gaza, WHO celebrated the day together with the ministry of health, education and higher education, FAO, WFP and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). A public event was held in which school children participated and held banners with key messages on food safety; representatives of the participating agencies gave short speeches, addressing water safety, food security, and the need to support farmers. FAO participated with a food exhibition of local products that are in compliance with international standards.

Dr. Mahmoud Daher, the head of the WHO office in Gaza, conveyed the World Health Day message from the WHO Regional Director Dr. Ala Alwan, and highlighted the importance of food safety issues in Palestine. “According to the Water Authority, more than 90% of the water in the Gaza strip is inappropriate for human consumption’’ said Dr. Daher. “Public health cannot be improved without ensuring food safety and security, which is a multisectoral and interdisciplinary responsibility,” Dr. Daher added.

‘’The global theme on Food Safety and the slogan of ‘From farm to plate, make food safe’ is applicable everywhere. In Gaza we need to work on issues beyond this theme where many people do not have their daily food or could not afford to buy food,” MoH official, Dr. Yousef Abu El-Reesh, added.

WHO is working to ensure access to adequate, safe, nutritious food for all. The Organization supports countries to prevent, detect and respond to foodborne disease outbreaks—in line with the Codex Alimentarius, a collection of international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice covering all the main foods.

New data on the harm caused by foodborne illnesses underscore the global threats posed by unsafe foods, and the need for coordinated, cross-border action across the entire food supply chain, according to the World Health Organization.

Document Type: Article, News item
Document Sources: World Health Organization (WHO)
Subject: Gaza Strip, Health
Publication Date: 07/04/2015