Olumide A. Odeyemi, from the Springforth Scientific Resource Centre in Nigeria said governments, policymakers, researchers and the general public must be involved.
He added in developing countries, most outbreaks are underreported or underestimated.
As part of global foodborne disease estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), the African Region had the highest burden per population. More than 91 million people fall ill and 137,000 die each year.
Chemical hazards, specifically cyanide and aflatoxin, cause one quarter of deaths from foodborne diseases and Konzo, a particular form of paralysis caused by cyanide in cassava, is unique to the African Region, resulting in death in one in five people affected.
“For example, Nigeria is a country with over 170 million people. However, it was reported that only 90,000 cases of foodborne diseases occur annually,” said Odeyemi.
“Australia is a developed country with just 24 million people equivalent to 1:7 when compared to Nigeria. Yet more than 5.2 million people are reported to have foodborne diseases annually in Australia despite the high standard of living, good water supply, proactive government initiatives, and measures on food safety.
“It could be deduced from this fact that at least 36 million people are possibly affected every year in Nigeria. Hence, underestimation of incidence of foodborne diseases in developing countries will affect the kind of measures and strategies implemented to curb foodborne disease outbreaks.”
Economic and public health implications of foodborne diseases in developing countries cannot be overestimated, said Odeyemi, adding that use of rapid methods for detection of foodborne pathogens is required.
“Public health implications of microbial food safety and foodborne diseases in developing countries”
Author: Olumide A. Odeyemi