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Regional News of Thursday, 7 February 2008

Source: GNA

Assemblies urged to monitor sanitation in the communities

Accra, Feb. 7, GNA - Mr Ibrahim Musah, Director of Policy Planning and Programme of the Society for Managing Initiative and Leadership Enhancement (SMILE), a non-governmental organization (NGO), has urged district assemblies to intensify their efforts at monitoring sanitary conditions and hygiene within the communities. They should also enforce food sanitation code and licensing of food vendors.

Mr Musah also suggested the introduction of stickers or tags to be displayed for the identification of street food vendors who had complied with all the regulations and obtained the prescribed clearance from the relevant authorities. In a statement issued in Accra, he said, "this should be preceded by a comprehensive public education on the relevance of the identification and the processes of obtaining them. He also advocated a one-step shop for the registration of street food vendors instead of the current disjointed and uncoordinated registration procedures, which were flawed with several avenues for fraud. Mr Musah expressed regret that food hygiene advocacy seminars held in five districts in the Greater Accra Region, monitoring agencies such as the Ghana Tourist Board, District Environmental Health Officers and Food and Drugs Board all cited inadequate personnel and logistics as a major constraints to effectively enforce and monitor the relevant regulations on the ground.

Mr Musah said these constraints had become more evident in their monitoring of small and micro size street food vendors such as 'koko' sellers and other food hawkers.

The Executives Director of SMILE-Ghana, Mr Paul Oduro Frimpong also suggested the expansion of the human resource base of monitoring institutions in collaboration with the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment for posting of personnel to these state organizations. He appealed to all consumer rights protection groups to be more proactive to the current unhealthy practices associated with preparation and sale of street foods.

In a related development, Mr Emmanuel Asamoah Ansong, Public Relation Officer of the Ghana Traditional Caterers Association, said the combine effects of the food borne diseases was the loss of confidence in our local foods prepared by street food vendors and had exposed unsuspecting consumers to various diseases. He said "this situation if allowed to go unchecked can have serious adverse effects on the sustainability of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) since most of these diseases, like diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid were all covered by the NHIS.

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