By Samira Larbie, GNA
Accra, Sept. 20, GNA - The Veterinary Services Directorate has called on government for adequate resources to effectively carry out its mandate of livestock supervision.
Dr Hayford Asiedu-Baah, the Director said this had become necessary as a recent research indicated that 60 per cent of diseases identified in health facilities originated from improper provision of quality animal health care.
He made the call at an inception workshop organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Accra to introduce stakeholders in the agricultural sector to a project dubbed: “Support to the Strengthening of Food Control Systems in Ghana” for their review.
Dr Asiedu-Baah said it was discovered that over 75 per cent of newly emerging and re-emerging diseases in the country and across the world were zoonotic and therefore there was an urgent need for more resources to confront the situation.
He urged government to prioritise the needs of the Directorate adding that, “if this is effectively done, it will reduce expenditure towards healthcare delivery in the country”.
The two-year project was designed to augment government’s efforts in promoting and strengthening food safety, food security and nutrition to zero towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ms Jocelyn Brown Hall, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Regional Representative for Africa and OiC FAO Representative to Ghana, speaking at the event said food safety had become a global concern in recent years and therefore the initiative seeks to increase access to safe and nutritious food.
She said in Ghana there was a challenge regarding adequate protection of food supply from microbial, chemical and physical hazards during production, harvesting, processing, storage, transportation and marketing along the value chain hence, the project.
Ms Hall said the Hazard critical control points from farm to consumer was not fully applied to ensure the maintenance of food hygiene throughout the production and supply chain.
She said hazards associated with unsafe food in Ghana reflected in incidence of food-borne illnesses, stagnation of trade volumes, and retarded economic growth.
“Weak policy and legislative framework for the food systems in the country, but also poor institutional capacities on the development of food standards and food safety controls, do not allow for good governance and coordination within the public and private sector,” she stated.
The FAO Country Representative said the inadequacies led to dis-functioning of national food safety certification, standardisation, traceability and regulation systems needed to meet the challenges of a modern food industry.
She said these were issues of concern to consider in strengthening the risk-based food control system systems in Ghana as the meat, fish and plant food industries, including; production, processing and marketing, are all caught up in the menace.
The project satisfied the FAO requirements, specifically contributed to SDGs 1, 2, 3,8,12 and 17, and it was an inter-ministerial project that would be carried out nationwide.
Dr Joyce Bediaku, the Acting Director General, National Development Planning Committee (NDPC) commended the FAO for the project to enhance food safety in the country.
She said the Ministry of Health together with the Food and Drugs Authority with support from the NDPC have initiated steps to finalise the National Food Safety Policy that would provide a legal framework for sustained actions around the food value chain including; food control systems.
Dr Bediaku added that specific strategies were outlined under the policy objectives of strengthening food and nutrition security, governance and ensuring food and nutrition safety in the medium term National Development Planning Framework.
She said the commission is equally committed to its long-term perspective of enhancing human development by working towards maintaining and improving nutritional value and food safety standards along the food value chain just as the SDGs.
The Acting Director General called for a coordinated action plan to be rolled out for policy makers, research and academia, development partners as well as the private sector to strengthen support structures along the food value chain.
She also urged stakeholders to appraise their respective roles and also demonstrate commitment to ensuring that the overall objective was achieved by the stipulated time.