Inadequate sanitation leads to eight deaths in the country every hour, topping the list of all causes of mortality, Health Minister, Major (rtd) Courage Quashigah, has disclosed.
He was speaking at the launch of the Sixth National Food Safety Week in Accra yesterday.
He said that the total number of yearly out-patient cases reported with food-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid, cholera and hepatitis, is about 420,000 with annual death rate of not less than 65,000.
The launch, on the theme: "Clean markets, safe food — a healthy people", aimed at establishing a framework for the creation of food safety awareness among stakeholders such as the Ministry of Health, Food and Drugs Board (FDB), Ghana Standards Board (GSB), and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It also sought to demonstrate the way in which safe food delivery can be attained through activating the right partnerships between regulatory institutions, industry, academia and consumers.
The minister said poor hygiene is associated with these diseases adding, "Diarrhoea diseases from consumption of raw and rotten vegetables and fruits, meat and fish production and processing, including street foods, are usually closely linked to poor hygiene".
Dismayed by the statistics, Major Quashigah advised the public to take proper care of their environment and underestimate the burden caused by these diseases as a result of poor food safety and hygiene.
"All these diseases cause misery, impede productivity, strain health systems and consign millions of people into abject poverty".
He said the quest for food safety can serve as an entry point for tapping the power of women and children to act as agents of change.
He called on all stakeholders to work together and address the issue of food safety in clean markets because consumers expect protection from them.
He commended the FDB for organising such an educative programme and assured them of government's support in their quest for ensuring food safety.
Prof Samuel Kofi Sefah, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Ghana, who was the chairman for the occasion, advised the public to take sanitation practices seriously to ensure food safety.
Cultural displays and drama added some spice to the occasion attended by directors from the Ministries of Food and Agriculture and Health, representatives from WHO, GSB, chiefs, market women and students.