From Samuel Duodu, Sunyani
The Brong Ahafo Regional Environmental Health Officer, Mr Slyvester Ankomah, has called for periodic medical screening of food vendors to ensure that they do not infect their customers with communicable diseases.
Apart from giving them a clean bill of health, he said food vendors, waitress and waitresses serving at restaurants and ‘chop bars’ must also ensure that they kept to good personal hygiene by cutting their nails, covering their hair-dos and wearing aprons to ensure that foods served to consumers were not contaminated.
Mr. Ankomah made the call when he spoke on ‘Food Safety’ at a day’s national policy dialogue on sanitation in Sunyani.
The meeting was organised by the Centre for Sustainable Development, a local non-governmental organisation (NGO) and sponsored by Water Aid, Ghana on the theme “Improved Sanitation for A Better Ghana.”
It brought together stakeholders in water and sanitation to dialogue with other partners on how to improve sanitation in the Brong Ahafo Region and Ghana as a whole.
Mr Ankomah also expressed concern about food production, especially the way vegetables and meat were handled, saying if vegetables, for instance, were not washed well before eating them, it could lead to food poisoning, intestinal disorders and even deaths.
The Regional Environmental Officer cited a recent case of food poisoning in the Berekum Municipality which resulted in the death of six people who ate from the same ‘chop bar’ to buttress his point.
He, therefore, called on the various municipal and district assemblies in the region to provide the needed logistics to staff of the unit to ensure that food vendors were medically fit to protect the public from health risks.
Mr Ankomah said the unit was understaffed, hampering effective monitoring, adding that about 250 environmental officers who had completed their training for almost a year now had not received their appointment letters and so were at home.
A water and sanitation engineer at the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) in Sunyani, Mr. Divine D. Dugbartey, said many households in the region did not have latrines and therefore, use the bush.
He, therefore, called on the assemblies to enforce their bye-laws on building to ensure that every household had a latrine.
Mr Dugbartey said the CWSA would provide latrines to 5,000 households in rural communities and small towns under the French and Ghana governments project for the provision of water and sanitation facilities in the region by 2010.
He also called on stakeholders in the water and sanitation sectors to come up with local technologies that were affordable to provide decent places of convenience for rural communities to increase access to household latrines.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, expressed concern about the conversion of lavatories and bathrooms into rooms for renting by some landlords in the region and called on the assemblies to strictly enforce their byelaws on building to ensure that every household had these facilities.