Sunday, 03 February 2019 13:35

WHO organizes a Food Safety and Quality Assurance assessment mission to Iraq

Baghdad, 01 February 2019 – Responding to a request by the Iraqi Ministry of Health and Environment, the World Health Organization (WHO) organized a mission of international experts to visit Iraq and conduct field visits, meetings and a joint workshop on Food Safety and Quality Assurance between 27 – 31 January 2019.

The experts arrived to Iraq to assess the situation of food safety, highlight the gaps and obstacles and submit their recommendations on how to tackle the challenges faced by the food safety system in Iraq. Visits were made to national laboratories at different institutions and health directorates. During those visits, the experts met with Iraqi officials and assessed the work done in terms of food safety analysis and assessment, lab tests, sampling as well clearance of tested items. A set of recommendations and groups’ work were prepared and discussed during the 2-day workshop in the presence of His Excellency Iraqi Minister of Health, Acting Representative of WHO Iraq, representatives from UN agencies and Iraqi officials from different departments, institutions and academia.

His Excellency Iraqi Minister of Health, Dr. Alaa Alwan, opened the workshop by saying, “It is very important to assess the safety of food and focus on how to control diseases. Food safety is an important issue and a global problem, which causes the death of more than two million people annually, most of which are children. Those deaths are caused by bacteria, contamination of food by chemicals and pollution that lead to diseases in the gastrointestinal system and kidneys.”

Further, His Excellency Dr. Alwan pointed out to the problems in preventing diseases, shortage in human resources and capacity, lack of coordination between different sectors, problems in financing and those related to food safety activities. His excellency confirmed the importance of prioritizing the development of a system that involves all concerned sectors to ensure an objective work plan is in place. His Excellency expressed his gratitude to the World Health Organization (WHO) in Iraq, EMRO and Headquarters in Geneva for the timely arranging for the expert’s mission and organizing the ‘effective’ workshop.

“Ensuring food safety is one of the most important measures which WHO is keen to implement in Member States. Such activity helps governments in mitigating the risk of food-borne illnesses and/or health-related conditions. It is also part of International Health Regulations (IHR) developed by WHO in 2005. In Iraq, food safety is one of the top challenges facing the country in IHR implementation. Accordingly, WHO in collaboration with MOH has conducted this mission to improve the situation of food safety (as a pre-requisite to the successful implementation of IHR) in the country.” said Dr. Adham Ismail, Acting Representative of WHO in Iraq.

The experts made presentations with recommendations to overcome the weaknesses in food safety in Iraq. The recommendations centered on the following key issues:
1. Inter-sectoral coordination;
2. Laws, regulations and implementation of food safety policy;
3. Emergency preparedness and response;
4. Foodborne disease surveillance and response;
5. Food safety monitoring and Inspection;
6. Information and communications; and
7. Human resources and finances.

A final report will include all discussions and agreed upon points with inputs from Iraqi counterparts and will be presented to the Ministry of Health soon to proceed with the implementation of a comprehensive and effective food safety programme in Iraq.

For more information, please contact:

Gheeda AlMayahi
WHO Communications Officer
(+964) 7827886765, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Ajyal Sultany
WHO Communications Officer
(+964) 7740 892 878, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional Info

  • Agency: WHO

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