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Aflatoxin becoming a health problem - Researchers
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Health News of Tuesday, 19 September 2006

Source: GNA

Aflatoxin becoming a health problem - Researchers

Accra, Sept. 19, GNA - Poor production and storage of farm produce such as maize, sorghum, yam and cassava chips and peanuts have been proved as the leading causes of aflatoxin, a fungal infection that affects crops in the world, especially the developing nations. "Data connecting to aflatoxin with HIV indicates that this second ranking risk is likely to be established when fully investigated because of its impact on immunity and nutrition. This single toxin may be a much more important factor in public health than presently believed,=94 a researcher said on Tuesday.

Dr. Tim Williams, International Coordinator of USAID Peanuts Collaborative Research Support Programme of the University of Georgina, United States, said this at the Sixth Annual Research Meeting of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR) in Accra. This year's three-day meeting is under the theme "Bridging the Research- Policy Divide: The role of Research in Health Care Delivery." It would disseminate research findings of the institute to a targeted audience on health policies and decision makers, health-related NGOs, health partners and the scientific community.

Dr Williams noted that there was widespread of exposure to aflatoxin but countries in the developing world considered trade cost as a priority ignoring the health cost associated with it. He explained that aflatoxin decreased growth in humans and its major risk of cancer exposure was cumulated in Hepatitis B. He said infectious diseases and nutritional disorders killed over 50 million people each year and called on countries not to ignore aflatoxin but give it the necessary attention.

Other speakers, Dr. Pauline Jolly of the University of Alabama, USA, Dr Tim Phillips, Dr Evans Afriyie-Gyawu, both from the of Texas A&M University, alluded to the fact that aflatoxin was gradually becoming a health problem and urged all countries to put the needed measures to address the problem.

Professor David Ofori-Adjei, Director of NMIMR, noted that researchers had been accused of conducting research that interested the academic whims and career progression publishing their findings only in international journals and denying policy makers and other health personnel access to such findings.

"This happens because generally access to international journals is fraught with difficulties. These difficulties include financial as well electronic barriers.

He said they were sometimes made to believe that policy makers did not have time to read and digest the valued papers of academics.

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