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Your A B C And 1 2 3 Of Political Economy By Sarjo Bayang, UK Part 19: Politics Of Food And Medication Business

Jun 13, 2018 | Sarjo Bayang
The Author
The Author

Food and medication are two commodities that command very large market share in the business world. Health and nutrition experts will say that too little food is not enough to keep you fit, especially of low quality. Yet we also see how eating too much food has unhealthy consequences.

Those with plenty money have higher purchasing power to buy and eat lot of food. Low income bracket and those with weaker purchasing power have limited ability to pay for daily required food. They also lack the means of paying for health maintenance cost. The food supply to society is loaded with material that poses health challenges. Not just food but other businesses pose some public health risks needing remedial government intervention.

Used cars, processed foodstuff, second hand clothes, computers and many other consumer goods are among health risk items conveniently dumped in some countries by profiteering traders.

In other countries, illicit trade on cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs slowly consumes youth population with very high health maintenance cost including rehabilitation. It results to loss of vital human capital through diminished capacity due to poor health and untimely deaths.

To prevent unhealthy consequences faced by a population at risk requires government responsibility for taking right steps regulating trade in food and other potentially harmful items.

Social and Economic Status by Appearance
In some societies building large body fat is associated with good life. By that perception, those that grow belly fat, get teased with remarks like “you are really eating your money”; often meaning enjoying good life from one’s earnings.

People who grow fat cheeks with big belly hanging below their chest are also associated with better economic status. Sunken eyes, dried lips and pale bodies are considered unhealthy condition, symbolic of low economic status in society.

On television screen, Internet and other mass communication instruments, we are bombarded with images of food poverty, sickness and abundance in extremes. A close look at the politics of food and medication reveals interesting contrasts with contradictions.

Junk Food Supply
In developed countries, the junk food business runs on the fastest track to profit. People decorate their home kitchens and not cooking homemade food. At street corners, fast food, cafés and takeaways are common. Continental food items also stand in big competition with traditional homemade.

Immigrants have not just settled with bag and baggage. They have their foodstuff and lifestyle brought along. Some of the foodstuff have no equivalent names in host countries. They only not gained social acceptance. Now you can find continental food names in standard dictionaries.

A comedian once joked about visiting fast food outlet with dancing lambs. The comedian is referring to kebab spinner with roasted lamb meat. You all know how much fat drips when kebab is served.

Junk food supply is extended to underdeveloped countries where shipments of low quality edibles are dumped at seaports for distribution. Some of the foodstuff expire and still being consumed. Ranging from canned foods, grains, poultry and dairy stuff, junk food is readily available.

Fast food business is fashionable and trendy. In some countries fast food was generally available at street corner and road sides. Bread and butter have been served as school lunch sandwich for children. Adults too have taken good bite while on the move or at work sometimes with tea.

The growth of junk food has reached higher proportion by popularity and demand. Food business is no longer a matter for small scale hawking. There is real investment with capital intensive machinery and equipment.

Experienced hotel workers in some places find suitable occupation by venturing into food business. This is more so with those in the catering sector. Whatever the experience or motivation, street outdoor eating business operates on fast gears and junk food comes in ever increasing large volume supply.

With growth of popularity for junk food on the rise, there is higher probability that this may also trigger underpinning health issues by association.

Preventive Health and Medication
Production and increased supply of medication indicates a sickening population. Hospital ambulances run side by side with fire fighters as though on equal state of alert.

The question everyone is asking relates to the role of government in preventive health care as opposed to medication.

Good standard health care in preventive service is more assuring and cost effective. Keeping the population healthy and fit by providing the enabling environment reduces cost of medication while giving everyone the occasion to enjoy good life. There are many contributing factors to a sickening population.

Pollution and other health related environment issues are within the remit of government to sanction and regulate.

Trade in some high demand items is killing not just the immediate consumer population but causing slow death to the economy by occasion.

Alcohol and drug related deaths are on the rise. Some of these harmful consumer items are distributed through illicit trading practices that government can do something about.

Regulating Food/Beverages and Medicine Business

Even though there may be regulations in place meant to protect society from harmful trade practices, much needed doing.

Consumers are at risk of so much harmful trade that escape competent scrutiny. The food industry account for high volume of business that puts consumers at risk of junk.

Society is also exposed to other health risk conditions found in drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and used items. The motivation for profits is fuelling some of these businesses to the extent of illicit trading practices requiring government intervention.

Due to high motivation economic interest, some potentially harmful trading practices keep going on over time.

Illicit trading is not only common for consumer items. In some countries, faked commodities include even medicine that is meant to keep society healthy.

Society is faced with critical health threats due to hazardous exposure. It comes in food supplies, second hand materials and various consumer items.

Illicit trading practice runs along various corridors of economic and social interest. It is not enough to have regulations that only facilitate revenue collection to fill up government coffers. When public health and safety is at risk of harm, much needs doing.

A healthy economy is sustained by a healthy population. Similarly, a healthy cash flow is good for the economy, however not when it is sourced from businesses that put public health and safety at risk of harm.

Critical observation of regulations regarding business reveals considerable gaps needing to fill up. For example, where the regulations provide business registration for legal operations, it is often silent about public health and safety. That is why free trade permits loose hands to operate on society, exposing their immediate consumers and everyone in public to avoidable hazards.

The situation becomes more dangerous and unsuitable when health risks get higher due to making of little hands driving the economy for profit without conforming to what corporate social responsibility demands. Extending that to selling and distribution of faked medicine is mass social murder that government has responsibility to arrest.

When consumers suffer harm or possibly die from faked medicine, bad food or unregulated consumption of alcohol, it is simply taken as natural. Some of those harms are preventable with proper regulations in place, not just on paper but by concrete punitive action meted out to perpetrators.

Until such time policy provisions and regulations take serious account of public health and safety in relation to businesses, the economy may be seen growing but at high risk to everyone in society.

This article features only a little bite on the big cake. There are latent issues pertaining to public health and safety linked to so many businesses that the regulations are silent about. It is time that frank talk begins before society succumbs to unavoidable health consequences. A stitch in time saves nine over the long run.

Sarjo Bayang
Sarjo Bayang

The author has authored 14 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author's column: SarjoBayang

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Sarjo Bayang 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."

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