What separates two people most profoundly, is a different sense and degree of cleanliness (Friedrich Nietzsche).
Issues of sanitation is a top global issue and has gained much more currency in contemporary times. Interestingly, in spite of effort by successive government, the problem keep on exacerbating.
World Health Organization(WHO) puts the number of food-borne diseases caused by agents, bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals estimates yearly at 600 million. These contamination posed after food consumption have had a negative effect on the health being of many people in the world, thus lowering productivity.
In November 2009, the koforidua central Hospital recorded one hundred and fifty-two cases of diarrhoea within four days which was traced to a food vending source.
From a dirty environment to Genetic Modified Foods( GMOs), man is gradually digging his early grave. Food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution have been globalized. The emergence of globalization and modernization has led to cultural erosion where our rich Ghanaian foods has been downgraded. We spend huge amount of money on junk and supposed fast foods, yet cancerous to the body. It has become a norm that eating those foods make us feel a sense of belonging or personal gratification, that we belong to the outside world.
Paradoxically, these foods has been a major factor to premature deaths that plagues society today.
Moreover our actions and inactions towards personal hygiene and a clean environment is worrying. You sometimes wonder why some buyers obstruct the seller with unnecessary talks, when you are in a hurry to buy and leave for other activities. The most annoying part is when you see people pinpointing the type of meat they want from the soup/stew whilst talking with mouth close to the soup/stew. How do you feel when you see some street foods left uncovered? And how do you feel when you see the seller wash her hand, wipe it in her shirt and then use that same hand to fetch macaroni and other leafy vegetables for you?
Also, Many food sellers and buyers are seen expectorating at food joints. It is also a common phenomenon to see flock of sheep eating from the seller's pot. We live in a society where people have planted in them the spirit of " I don't care". We have witnessed incidences of food poisoning in Ghana, yet the situation remains the same. There are no rules for food vendors. So anybody can just wake up from bed today and cook anything and sell on the street. With the desire to make money and survive, some people don't care whatever happens to their fellow human being. So just be careful where you buy food. In fact, you should be very cautious where you buy food from, sit and eat.
Hygiene routines that are less visible are often neglected. Health is a basic human right and should be given the maximum attention. Basic cleanliness is vital for the existence of a person and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Negligence of personal hygiene subject a person to infections and diseases. Many premature death is as a result of man's negligence of the environment he lives.
Contrary to common belief, hygiene is not just restricted to personal grooming but extends itself to domestic, professional and civic health of a society( Clean Ghana).
Additionally, we have seen unpleasant situations where foods are located near a toilet facility or close to choked gutters on the corners of the street, especially "waakye Sellers".
Civilization is the distance that man has placed between himself and his own excreta (Brian W. Aldiss). If most of our street foods are to be tested, you will be surprise to see faecal content in it.
It is not uncommon to see unsanitary sights at various food joints in Ghana( gutters, public toilets, community containers, etc.)
Although we take it for granted, sanitation is a physical measure that has probably done more to human life span than any kind of drug or surgery (Deepak Chopra).
With the rise in health risks, it has become paramount to stay hygienic.
However, the following measures when taken into consideration will help protect the lives of consumers and also bring about a conducive environment.
One primary impetus to bring about change is to educate the public through clinics and social-work associations. Nurses has a role in the spread of hygiene rules. They should not sit at their comfort zones, patiently waiting for patients. Nurses because of their medical expertise and womanly nature, are central to spreading proper methods of personal and domestic hygiene.
Moreover, There is a need to set up food inspection team to monitor cooking and selling environment of food vendors, like the way police check drivers on the road. Food sellers need to be checked as well. Food inspectors will monitor frequent hand washing, dressing, testing food trays, checking vegetables, packaging, and strict cleanliness of food preparation areas. This will serve as a yardstick to ensure that food producers and vendors sell products that are wholesome for the body. There should be instructions for food vendors on the necessity to adhere to strict discipline of the body so they might live healthy lifestyles and fulfill their obligations to avoid putting people's health in jeopardy.
Additionally, stringent laws should be passed by government regarding who to sell, what to sell, and where to sell. People should not be allowed to cook anything and put it on the street. For example, issuance of food selling permit certificates and receipts. people who wants to sell should go through series of test, specifically, their health status. It is not uncommon to see people with chronic, infectious and contagious diseases ( sore, rotten fingers, tuberculosis, etc) selling on the streets in Ghana.
If we want to improve health, we should regulate the activities of food vendors to make sure they meet certain sanitation standards.
A well designed billboards should be placed at vantage points, showing good cooking and selling habits. On the streets of Ghana, food sellers are often seen receiving calls by placing the phone in-between their left ear and shoulder whilst talking and serving at the same time.
Nine-tenths of our sickness can be prevented by right thinking plus right hygiene — nine-tenths of it (Henry Miller).
Better safe than sorry, Life is precious.
Environment and Resource Management student.
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."
Reproduction is authorised provided the author's permission is granted.