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Health Matters Encounter with Programme Manager Food Hygiene and Safety DoSH

Dec 30, 2008, 6:17 AM

HM: Can you tell us your educational background and working experience?

MLN: My name is Momodou Lamin Nget, I was born in the Central River Region. I work for the Department of State for health and Social Welfare as programme manager, food hygiene and safety. I am a public health graduate with two diplomas in all areas of public health, the Royal Society of Health's diploma and The Gambia College Public Health diploma.

I have attended several training sessions both National and internationally on burning issues of importance in public health. I have also received certificates notable among them are certificate on food and nutrition vis-à-vis food hygiene and safety in Accra , Ghana , certificate in disaster management, mitigation response and recovery in Abuja, Nigeria and a certificate in disease outbreak communication in  Nairobi , Kenya.

I am currently the programme manager of the Food Hygiene and Safety Unit of DOSH and also a member of a panel of experts at the level of the national training authorities setting standards for the hotels and hospitality industry on food hygiene and safety. I am also involved in training food handlers in hotels and restaurants on food hygiene and safety.

HM: What is your unit doing in the area of food safety in the country?

MLN: As for the food hygiene and safety the unit; its ultimate objective is to ensure that food from production, transportation, preparation and presentation is all the time of the nature, quality and substance desired.

To achieve the above objective, resources both human and material are indispensable. The Department of State deemed it necessary to train health officers across the country on the HACCP concept and principle which is the international managerial system adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in ensuring food safety.

Public health officers across the country were also trained on the WHO five keys to safer food. This is all geared towards enhancing capacity for better service delivery and this was achieved with the support from the WHO country office. It is the responsibility of the unit to co-ordinate all the activities of food hygiene and safety in the country and the unit sets and enforces standards on all food establishments. This is made possible by the powers vested on the public health officers in both the public health act of 1990 and the food Act of 2005.

It is the mandate of the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare to protect the public from anything injurious to health contaminated. My unit is doing everything within their limits.

A lot of unwholesome food and drinks have been condemned and disposed by the authorities and this is to protect the public from food borne diseases some of which could be fatal.

HM: What are some of the measures put in place for food hygiene by your unit?

MLN: Measures are in place to inspect food at the ports of entry in the country to ascertain their wholesomeness. Any food found to be unwholesome, in all parameters of use, will be condemned and disposed of. I urge everybody importing food into the country to desist from bringing sub-standard food.

DOSH will be taking drastic action against people involved in the act of bringing, producing, transporting, preparing or exposing unwholesome food for sale to the public.

On the problems related to the melamine contaminated products and the Avian influeza the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare together with stakeholders , have responded swiftly  they visited all the food premises in the country and had discussions with importers of food.

A ban is in place on all poultry  and poultry products from all the countries that have had an Avian influenza  outbreak and importers are advised not to import  the incriminated products into the country. All this was co-ordinated by the National Codex Committee under the auspices of the National Nutrition Agency (NANA). The Department of State for Health and Social Welfare will continue the exercise of arresting unwholesome food. The exercise is going to be a routine one and the unit and the Health Education Unit are engaged in sensitising the food vendors and the general public on food hygiene and safety in the various media houses in the country.

I have been working with the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare for the past 19 years and has served in various capacities.