Every year, the World Health Organization celebrates April 7 as 'World Health Day'. The theme for World Health Day 2015 was 'From farm to plate, make food safe'. Margaret Chan, director general of the UN World Health Organization, said, "Food safety, quality and quantity must go together." The campaign hopes to make consumers aware of the health dangers that may lurk in their food, with tips on eating a balanced diet and preparing meals hygienically.
Millions of people around the world wage a daily battle to obtain safe food, and the WHO estimates about two million die every year of food-borne and water-borne diseases. Along the long production chain, food can sometimes be contaminated by viruses, bacteria, parasites or chemicals, sometimes from polluted water.
Tainted food causes more than 200 diseases ranging in severity from diarrhea to cancers. WHO figures reveal that some 582 million people suffered from 22 different food-borne diseases in 2010, and 351,000 people died of it. More than 40% of people who fell ill were children under five, and poor countries, particularly in Africa, were hardest hit.
In 2011, a E. coli outbreak in Germany reportedly caused $1.3 billion (1.2 billion euros) in losses for farmers and industry, and $236 million in emergency aid payments to 22 European Union member states. Chan said, "Countries must come up with the right policies and the right systems for prevention and control at source."
Bernard Vallat, director general of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), said, "More than 100 countries around the world still have no legislation to align domestic policies with international food safety standards."
With reference to the West African Ebola outbreak, Chan Said, "Another major problem is hunger placing people at risk of killer pathogens, like the Ebola virus, carried by animals they eat or come in contact with in the pursuit of food. When there is no food security, meaning people are not sure whether they are going to get food, they go into the forest to hunt for bush meat."
On the contrary, overeating is becoming an ever bigger challenge for health authorities. Chan said, "Eating the wrong type of nutrition, high energy, high fat, can give you heart disease, diabetes and of course obesity. I am very concerned about the whole issue of obesity and its consequences."