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SEARO|FoodsafetyOverview

Foodsafety
FoodsafetyOverview
AccesstosafefoodsremainsamajorchallengeforthepopulationsoftheMemberStatesofWHOsSouthEast
AsianRegion.
In1998,thetenpointregionalfoodsafetystrategywasdevelopedtoassistMemberStatesinenhancingfood
safetyprogrammesintheircountries.Thiswasfollowedbyseveralregionallevelmeetingsandconsultationsto
addresstheemergingtechnicalneeds.
Periodicfollowupsandoccasionalassessmentsofthenationalfoodsafetyprogrammesandtheiralignment
withthetenpointregionalfoodsafetystrategyhadbeenundertakenovertheyears.Therecurringobservations
havebeenthatwhilefoodsafetyprogrammesareinplaceinalltheMemberStates,theireffectivenessand
magnitudeofactivitiesdonotconformtothedesiredstandardsnortothepolicyandapproachesofthetenpoint
regionalfoodsafetystrategy.
Improvementinthefoodcontrolsystemscontrolandpreventionoffoodborneillnessesincludinganeffective
surveillancesystemsnewfoodlaws,actsandstandardsappropriatefoodsafetypolicies/plansofaction
limitedtechnicalcapacitiesandfinancialresourcesalignmentwithinternationalstandardsandalertsystems,
remainmajorconstraintsinseveralMemberStates.
Formulationoftheglobalfoodsafetystrategyrapidchangesinglobalizationtheimpactofclimatechangeon
foodproduction,distributionandconsumptionbiologicalandenvironmentalcontaminationofthefoodchainand
newfoodtechnologiesareaffectingallaspectsoffoodsafetyprogrammes.Theseissuesneedtobereflectedin
theregionalfoodsafetystrategy.
TherevisedRegionalFoodSafetyStrategyisintendedtoassistMemberStatesindevelopingamultisectoral
approachandidentifyingandprioritizingfoodsafetyactionsinalltherelevantnationalsectors.
TheStrategyhastakenintoconsiderationthediversityexhibitedinthenatureandmagnitudeoffoodsafety
problemsinMemberStates,aswellastheavailablenationalcapacitiesandtechnicalexpertisetoaddresssuch
problems.
Foodsafetyistheassurancethatfoodwillnotcauseharmtotheconsumerwhenitispreparedand/oreaten
accordingtoitsintendeduse1.Microbiologicalcontaminationoffoodandwaterisamajorcauseofdeathsand
illnessduetodiarrhea,whichisestimatedtoaffectoneinthreepeopleworldwideandovertwomillion,including
1.9millionchildrendieannually2.Inordertopreventfoodbornediseaseandimprovefoodsafety,theWorldHealth
OrganizationhasbeenassistingitsMemberStatestoestablishandstrengthentheirnationalprogrammesfor
assuringthesafetyoffoodfromproductiontoconsumption.
IntheSouthEastAsiaregion,accesstosafefoodremainsachallengewithalargenumberoffoodborne
diseaseswidelyprevalentinmostMemberStates.Anestimated5billioncasesofdiarrheawerereportedin
children5yearsandaboveatthegloballevelofwhich3.2billioncaseswerereportedfromSouthEastAsiaeach
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year.Foodborneandotherinfectiousentericdiseaseshadincreasinglyaffectedpeopleshealthandwellbeing
andalsohadeconomicimpactsontheindividuals,communitiesandcountries.
WHOSEAROhasbeenworkingcloselywithMemberStatestoimprovethenationalfoodsafetyprogrammes
throughtechnicalassistanceandcollaborativeactivitiessinceearly1990s.Areviewofthefoodsafetyinitiatives
intheregionwereconductedin1993followedbyaconsultationonastrategicplanforfoodsafetyintheSouth
EastAsiaregionin1998whichresultedintheformulationoftheTenpointregionalstrategyforfoodsafetyinthe
SouthEastAsiaregioninthesameyear.
Theregionaltenpointstrategyforfoodsafety(RTFS)hadidentifiedtenkeystrategiesforachievingsafefoodfor
allintheregion:(i)foodsafetypolicy(ii)foodlegislation(iii)foodcontrolandinspection(iv)analyticalcapability
(v)epidemiologicalsystem(vi)relationshipswiththefoodindustryandtrade(vii)relationshipswithfoodservice
providersandretailers(viii)relationshipswithconsumers(ix)educationandtraining(x)researchinfoodsafety.
Allmembercountrieswereurgedtoadoptthestrategyanddeveloptheirnationalfoodsafetypolicies.
TofollowuptheactivityoffoodsafetyinSEARMemberStates,questionnaireshadbeensenttoallmember
countriesbeginningin1999,toassesstheimplementationofthe10pointregionalstrategy.Itwasfoundthatonly
fewcountrieshadmadesignificantprogress.Atthattime,foodsafetyprogrammesdramaticallyvariedamong
MemberStateswithalimitedintegrationofHazardAnalysisofCriticalControlPoints(HACCP)systemintofood
regulationandinspection.Majorconcernsweretheadequacyandrelevanceoffoodlegislationandregulations,
theneedfortechnicalassistance,resourcesandcapacitybuilding.
Laterthatyear,theregionalfoodsafetystrategywasendorsedbytheFiftythirdSessionoftheRegional
CommitteeinresolutionSEA/RC53/R7,inwhichMemberStateswereencouragedtoadopttheregionalstrategy
asaframeworkfornationalfoodsafetyprogrammedevelopmentandtoprovideadequateresourcestoestablish
andstrengthenfoodsafetyprogrammesemphasizingonpreventiveapproaches
InaccordancewiththeRegionalCommitteeResolution,aregionalconsultationonfoodsafetywasheldin2001to
reviewtheimplementationoftheregionalstrategyonfoodsafetyandotherfoodsafetyissuesintheregion.The
consultationaddressedtheneedsofcapacitybuildingwithsupportfromtheregionaloffice,updatingandrevising
foodlegislation,establishmentofnationalfoodsafetybody,establishmentofdatabasesforcontamination
monitoringandfoodbornediseasesurveillance,reviewofinspectorsqualificationsandtraining,developmentof
riskcommunicationstrategy,andstudiesforassessmentofexposureofconsumerstochemicalcontaminantsin
food.Theimportanceofresearchinidentifyingpriorityfoodbornehazardswasalsorecognizedbythe
consultation.
The59thSessionofRegionalCommitteein2006decidedinresolutionSEA/RC59/23toholdtechnical
discussionsinNutritionandFoodSafetyintheSouthEastAsiaregioninthefollowingyear.Thediscussions7led
totheadoptionofresolutionSEA/RC60/R3atthe60thSessionoftheRegionalCommitteein2007callingforthe
developmentofintegratednationalnutritionandfoodsafetypolicyandplanofaction,initiationofactionoriented
researchandstudies,establishmentofmonitoringandsurveillancesystemonfoodsafety,educationoftarget
groups/stakeholdersandresourcesprovidedbytheMemberStatestosustaintheprogrammes.Thetechnical
grouprecommendedWHOSEAROtoprovidesupportandtechnicalleadershiptoMemberStatesforthe
developmentofanationalpolicyandplanofaction,assistindevelopingevidencebasedfoodsafetyprogramme
actions,assessment,monitoring,andsurveillance,estimateeconomicburdencausedbyfoodbornedisease,
establishinformationnetworkingandsharingmechanismintheregion,andensureadequateresources.
Afollowupsurveywasconductedin2008todeterminethesituationoffoodsafetyintheregion.Thereport
highlightedtheneedformorenationalcommitmenttowardstheimplementationoftheregionalstrategy,
developmentofintegratednationalfoodsafetyplansofaction,foodsafetypolicyandlegislationupdates,
establishmentofintegratedmonitoringandsurveillancesystems,attentiontofoodmarketsandfoodfordomestic
consumption,andtranslationofresearchresultsintopolicy.
InformationgatheredbyWHOSEARO10in2009todeterminethecurrentstatusontheimplementationofthe
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regionalfoodsafetystrategyindicatedthatfoodsafetyprogrammesintheMemberStateswereprogressingata
slowpaceandalignmentofthenationalprogrammeswiththeregionalfoodsafetystrategyremainedinadequate.
SeveralMemberStateslackedadequateresources(manpowerandequipment)foreffectivefunctioningofthe
nationalfoodsafetyprogrammeswhiletheparticipationofotherMemberStatesintheCodexprocesswas
minimal.
Foodsafetyhadbeenaddressedasastrategicobjective14for20082013,focusingondevelopmentsand
capacitybuildingforintegratedfoodsafetyandnutritionpoliciesandeffectivenationalfoodcontrolsystems.The
strategicobjectiveproposed(i)todevelopnetworkingandcoordinationandbuildleadershipatcountry,regional
andgloballevels(ii)producefoodsafetystandards,guidelinesortrainingmaterialsand(iii)establishand
strengthensystemsforsurveillance,preventionandcontroloffoodbornediseasesandfoodhazardmonitoringand
evaluationprogrammes.
In2010,theWHA63.3resolutionrequestedadvancingfoodsafetyinitiativestoprioritizefoodsafetyprogramin
MemberStates.MemberStateswereurgedtoestablishseveralactivities,someofwhicharementionedhere:
establishandmaintainactivitiesforrespondingtothenaturaloccurrence,accidentalrelease,ordeliberateuseof
biologicalandchemicalagentsorradionuclearmaterialsthataffectedhealthfurtherdevelopandimplementthe
corecapacitiesasdefinedintheInternationalHealthRegulations(IHR)enhancetheintegrationoffoodsafety
considerationsintofoodaid,foodsecurityandnutritioninterventionsinordertoreducetheoccurrenceof
foodbornediseasesandimprovethehealthoutcomesofpopulations,inparticularthevulnerablegroupsto
participateactivelyintheCodexAlimentariusCommissionsstandardsettingprocessandtoadoptCodex
standardswheneverappropriate.
TheresolutionalsocalledforfurtherdevelopmentoftheInternationalFoodSafetyAuthorityNetwork(INFOSAN)
byencouragingtheparticipationofallMemberStatesthroughtimelysharingofdata,informationandknowledge.
WHOwasrequestedtofurtherdevelopINFOSANthroughtheimplementationofWHOsglobalstrategyforfood
safetytostrengthenINFOSAN'semergencyfunctionandtoensuresustainablesupporttoencourage
communicationandtechnicalexchangeofriskassessmentsandbestpracticesamongmembersofINFOSAN,
amongotheractivities.TheRegionalOfficeundertookreviewsofthenationalCodexCommitteesandINFOSAN
committeesinitsMemberStates.Thiswasachievedthroughperusalofexistinginformationandinterviewswith
keystakeholders.
Inrecognitionofrapidchangesattheglobal,regionalandcountrylevelswithregardtofoodsafetyprogrammes,
emergenceofnewchallengesinfoodsafetyissuesandincreaseininternationaltradeandcommerceoffood
itemsbringingwithitcontrolandstandardsissues,itwasconsideredtimelytoreviewexistingregionalfoodsafety
strategyandintroduceamendmentsasappropriate.Thisexercise,whichcommencedinmid2011,utilized
availableinformationonfoodsafetyprogrammesandstatusoftheiralignmentwiththeregionaltenpointfood
safetystrategyinadditiontoconductingtelephoneandelectronicinterviewswiththenationalfoodsafetyfocal
pointsandperusalofinternationalandregionalpublicationsonfoodsafetyissues.Thedraftregionalfoodsafety
strategywasformulatedwiththeoverallpurposeofassistingMemberStatestostrengthentheirnationalfood
safetyprogrammes,consideringtheexistingsituation,requirementandtechnicalcapacityofeachMember
States.ThedraftstrategywillbereviewedbyMemberStatesandaselectpanelofexpertsbeforeitssubmission
totheRegionalCommitteeoftheSouthEastAsiaRegion.
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