Scientists at Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine division of Sanofi Nigeria, have said that in order to ensure public health, food handlers such as producers, butchers, cooks and others who sell food to members of the public should be vaccinated against certain bacteria and viruses that may contaminate the food chain.
The scientists are of the view that improvement in general hygiene standards would reduce the possibility of the general population developing antibodies to certain viruses.
Speaking at the World Health Day on Tuesday in Lagos, which was observed in partnership with the Association of Public Health Physicians of Nigeria, Head of Business Operations, Sanofi Pasteur, Mrs. Ovy Ohioze, noted that food- and water-borne diarrhoeal diseases kill an estimated two million people annually, particularly in developing countries.
She noted that unsafe foods create a vicious cycle of diarrhoea and malnutrition, threatening the nutritional status of the most vulnerable, including children. She said, “Food can become contaminated at any point of production and distribution, and the primary responsibility lies with food producers.
“However, a large proportion of food-borne disease incidents are caused by foods that are improperly prepared or mishandled at home, in food service establishments or markets.” She lamented that not all food handlers and consumers understand the roles they must play to protect their health and that of the wider community, such as adopting basic hygiene practices when buying, selling and preparing food.
She disclosed that now, vaccines are available to protect against more than 26 infectious diseases.
“Sanofi Pasteur has a broad range of vaccine protecting against 20 infectious diseases, including food- and water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera. Our vaccines against these two infections are prequalified by the World Health Organisation and are in use in several countries around the world,” Ohioze said.
The General Manager, Sanofi Pasteur English-speaking East and West Africa, Mr. Paul Njoroge, said it was necessary to create a forum to raise awareness about the importance of preventing food- and water-borne diseases, awakening all stakeholders from government to producers, providers and consumers to their roles in ensuring sustainable food safety and the provision of superior and innovative vaccines for the prevention of diseases.
“This will culminate in the achievement of our vision of a world in which no one suffers or dies from vaccine-preventable diseases,” Njoroge said.
Published: April 15, 2015 : Solaade Ayo-Aderele
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