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Government Committees Demand Action on Aflatoxin Contamination

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Government Committees Demand Action on Aflatoxin Contamination in Uganda
Government Committees Demand Action on Aflatoxin Contamination in Uganda
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Members of Parliament (MPs) from the health and agriculture committees discussed the issue of aflatoxin contamination and called upon the Ministry of Health to address the problem through research. The MPs emphasized the importance of cooperation between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture to combat aflatoxin contamination in food products.

Hon. Julius Karuhanga, an independent MP representing Rwampara East County, stressed the need to standardize the testing process for aflatoxins. He urged both ministries to collaborate and support researchers in their efforts.

Chairing the joint committee, Hon. Samuel Opio, who also serves as the MP for Kole North County, expressed concern about the lack of substantial action taken to prevent and manage aflatoxin contamination, despite extensive research on the subject. He questioned the health sector’s plans for managing health issues related to aflatoxin poisoning, such as liver cancer, and inquired about the capacity to test for aflatoxin levels in blood samples.

Hon. Margaret Muhanga, the State Minister for Health in charge of General Duties, revealed that a significant number of liver cancer cases at the Uganda Cancer Institute are attributed to aflatoxin exposure. She emphasized the importance of food safety education in reducing the disease’s burden. However, Muhanga noted that despite the presence of extension workers, inspectors, and Village Health Teams across the country, farmers are not familiar with these officials. She suggested that local government leaders should monitor the performance of these individuals.

MPs also called upon the government to develop targeted messages on aflatoxin management and conduct awareness campaigns, including messages in local languages. Hon. Mary Begumisa, the NRM representative for Ssembabule District, urged the government to publicize information on aflatoxins, similar to its campaigns for diseases like malaria, which are regularly heard on radios and other media.

Dr. Charles Olaro, the Director for Curative Services at the Ministry of Health, mentioned the development of a handbook on aflatoxin management for extension workers to improve information dissemination.

Muhanga emphasized the importance of enhancing food system safety education, awareness, and communication among various stakeholders, including consumers, producers, processors, retailers, and regulators, to better manage aflatoxin contamination.