Takoradi October 20, GNA - Over 600 cases of cholera were recorded in the Shama-Ahanta East Metropolis in 2002, Dr Linda Van-Otoo, the Metropolitan Health Office said on Wednesday.
She was speaking at a day's workshop on the Food and Drugs Law organized by the Western Region Office of the Food and Drugs Board for selected environmental health officers in the region in Takoradi. Dr Van-Otoo said 14 of the cholera patients died while the rest responded to treatment.
She asked environmental health officers to redouble their efforts and assist the Metropolitan Assembly to keep the area clean to reduce incidence of cholera and other communicable diseases.
Dr Van-Otoo expressed concern about indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the area and further urged environmental health officers to help educate the public on the Metropolitan Assembly's bye-laws to make them aware of their responsibilities in ensuring clean environment.
Mr George Pentsil, Zonal Officer of the Food and Drugs Board in-charge of the Western and Central Regions, said a post market survey conducted in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis by the Takoradi Office of the Board recently on the operations of Chop Bars, Check Check, Restaurants and street food vendors revealed that a substantial number of them are operating under unsanitary and unhygienic conditions.
Mr Pentsil said the survey centered on location of premises, health condition of personnel, personal hygiene, food handling practices and cleaning of equipment, among other areas.
He said the survey revealed that majority of chop bars and fast food joints were located in unsanitary and unhygienic places with some located close to big gutters and public toilets.
Mr Pentsil said equally appalling was human excreta and heap of garbage found near some of these facilities while a good number of personnel did not have health certificates.
He said the survey recommended that chops bars and restaurants should have adequate ventilation, managements should ensure that their personnel abide by personal hygiene requirements and all personnel should undergo food handler's test.
Mr Kwamina Van-Ess, Head of Food Division of the Food and Drugs Board, called on environmental health officers to assist the Board to ensure food offered for sale are safe and wholesome.
He said it is an offence under the Food and Drugs Law to sell poisonous, harmful substance and unwholesome food.
Mr Van-Ess said consumers have the right to demand Ghana Standard Board and the Food and Drugs Board certificates on products before buying them.
He said the public could also report to the board manufacturers who deceive them about the efficacy of their products for sanctions to be applied against them. Mr. Van-Ess said preparation of herbal medicines for sale should conform to World Health Organisation guidelines, which the Board is enforcing.
Mr. Paul Dogbey, Western Regional Environmental Health Officer, who presided said on July 12 this year, about 68 people who bought food at a certain fast food joint in Tarkwa got seriously sick. He said when the food was analysed by the Food and Drugs Board it was found to be contaminated by pesticides.