Ministry of Health (MoH) has scaled up efforts to prevent an outbreak of listeriosis in the country after a World Health Organisation (WHO) declaration of an outbreak in South Africa put sub-Saharan countries on alert.
MoH spokesperson Joshua Malango said the ministry has placed health officers at all borders and entry points into Malawi to screen immigrants of any disease, including listeriosis.
He said: “A system is in place that ensures that imported food items are checked to ensure that the food meets minimum standards before they are allowed into the country.”
Malango said the ministry, in collaboration with other line ministries and WHO, has initiated meetings aimed at strengthening food safety activities, such as food inspection, which are key to preventing listeriosis.
“The ministry also sensitised all the districts on the issue of listeriosis during a meeting for all district environmental health officers and directors of health of city councils which took place on 12th January, 2018,” he said.
In an interview quoted on UN News, WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier said listeriosis is difficult to detect due to the three-week incubation period, a development which makes containment and treatment a challenge in the affected areas.
Listeriosis is a serious, but treatable and preventable disease caused by a bacterium called listeria monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects risk groups such as the elderly, immune-compromised persons, pregnant women and can cause miscarriages and still birth if infection occurs during pregnancy.
Malawi is on alert considering that the country imports most of its food products from South Africa, placing the Malawian population at risk of an outbreak if contaminated food comes into the country. n