World Health Day 2015 regional consultation at Kolkata

A regional consultation, organized by the WHO Country for India, in collaboration with Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal, at Kolkata on 7 April 2015 made a strong call for promoting food safety, the theme of this year’s World Health Day.

The consultation brought together stakeholders, from farm to plate, to discuss integration of ‘food safety’ into the broader food policy agenda and informing producers and consumers about the vital importance of safe food, and its impact on public health.

Present at the consultation were: Mr Moloy Kumar Dey, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal; Dr Subir Kirtania, Additional Director of Health Services, Food Safety, Government of West Bengal; Dr B. R. Satpathy, Director of Health Services, Government of West Bengal; Professor S. K. Bandyopadhyay, Director of Medical Education, Government of West Bengal; Ms Godhuli Mukherjee, Commissioner of Food Safety and Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal; Dr D. P. Guha, Regional Joint Director (East), Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI); Dr A. K. Adhikari, Director, Central Food Laboratory, Kolkata; Professor Madhumita Dobe, Head of the Department of Health Education, All India Institute of Hygiene & Public Health, Kolkata, amongst other stakeholders.

In his address, Mr Moloy Kumar Dey, Principal Secretary, Health & Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal said, “Though we have various public health programs for vector-borne disease control programs and waterborne diseases, the country lacks a public health program for diseases caused by unsafe food. Only regulations will not work, raising awareness and communicating about food safety are equally critical.”

Speaking about the World Health Day, Dr Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India said, “Food safety is an issue of growing public health concern. To achieve food safety, strong functional links must be built between the public health and other sectors to ensure effective cross-sectoral collaboration.”

The objective of the World Health Day, this year, is to catalyse collective government and public action to put measures in place that will improve safety of food by aligning policies in agriculture, trade, health, education and social protection to provide a safe and healthy diet for all.

Addressing issues related to food safety and food control systems, the discussions at the regional consultation saw active deliberations on the need for multisectoral collaboration from food production to consumption and cooperation from all sectors for compliance of food standards.

Acknowledging the need to further improve the food safety systems, the forum extensively deliberated on the issues of production, regulations, nutrition, unhealthy food, consumer awareness, and strengthening surveillance of foodborne illnesses in India.

The consultation strongly advocated that the governments must partner with civil society, NGOs, private sector and consumers, to ensure that safe food becomes everybody’s business.