WHO brings out handbook to measure foodborne disease burden

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday released a handbook to help countries measure their foodborne disease burden and identify food safety system needs.

The handbook, released on the occasion of World Food Safety Day, can also help countries assess the causes, magnitude and distribution of foodborne diseases, strengthen national infrastructure, and better protect people’s health.

World Food Safety Day is observed on June 7 every year. This year’s theme is ‘Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow’.

“Food should sustain and support human health, not harm it,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

“WHO’s new handbook will help countries collect and analyze data to inform sustained investments in food safety. The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the intimate links between the health of humans, animals, and the planet that sustains us.

“WHO will continue to work with partners with a One Health approach to keep communities safe from foodborne disease,” he said.

Every year, 600 million cases of foodborne illnesses are reported. In 2010, 4,20,000 people died due to diseases such as salmonella and E.coli infection, a third of them children under five years of age.

This figure is estimated to increase year after year, but it is difficult to get a clear picture of the real impact foodborne diseases are having around the world.

In 2020, the World Health Assembly had adopted a new resolution mandating the WHO to monitor the global burden of foodborne and zoonotic diseases at the national, regional and international levels and to report on the global burden of foodborne diseases with up-to-date estimates.

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