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African Leaders Urged To Mitigate Aflatoxins 

President Museveni addressing conference particiants

President Museveni addressing conference particiants

African leaders have been called upon to collectively address the aflatoxins challenge in Africa as they are a major health risk and impede the agricultural and trade sectors of the continent.

The call was made at the 2nd Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) Partnership Platform Meeting, PPM organised by the African Union Commission, October 11-13, 2016 in Entebbe, Uganda.

The conference was organised under the theme: “Tracking commitments, sustaining implementation for results and impact.”

Officially opening the second PACA Partnership Platform, Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, outlined some diseases like cancer, pneumonia and Hepatitis B, among others as, illnesses that could be caused by consuming foods contaminated by aflatoxins.

Museveni called for more concerted and proactive efforts to sensitise the general populace about the effects of aflatoxins on their wellbeing.

For her part, the African Union Commission Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, urged African leaders to continue to champion the cause of aflatoxin mitigation.

To her, this would facilitate the creation of policies and enable environment to allow for evidence-based action plans to be implemented by various stakeholders.

Tumusiime said aflatoxin contamination is the most pervasive food safety challenge in Africa and therefore requires a concerted, coordinated and holistic approach to have a meaningful and sustained impact on mitigating the problem.

She said this can be done through the model being promoted by the continental strategy of PACA which is aligned and is implemented through the CAADP framework.

Through the 2014 AU Malabo Declaration, African leaders reaffirmed their commitment to increase agricultural production, productivity and food and nutrition security.

Therefore, to attain the goal of a food-secure Africa, and in order to effectively contribute to the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, it will be critical to address aflatoxins.

Aflatoxins are adversely affecting household food and nutrition security, trade and income and public health in Africa.

They are natural compounds produced by the mould Aspergillusflavus and related species. They are highly toxic to humans and animals, causing liver disease and cancer.

Chronic exposure to aflatoxins is also associated with stunting and immune system suppression. Aflatoxin-producing moulds affect grain and other food crops notably, maize and groundnuts. The toxins can be carried over along the food chain and contaminate animal source foods.

Humans and animals get exposed to aflatoxins through ingestion of foods/feeds contaminated by the toxins.

The African Union Commission through PACA is working to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of governments to tackle the aflatoxin challenge in Africa. Furthermore, the PACA Secretariat, housed at the African Union Commission’s Department for Rural Economy and Agriculture, DREA, is working closely with Regional Economic Communities, RECs and local country stakeholders through country aflatoxin Steering Committees to support the preparation, execution, and oversight of government‐led and stakeholder aligned aflatoxin control action plans.

By Tandong Calistus Jong

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