Food safety

Global surveillance of foodborne disease: developing a strategy and its interaction with risk analysis. WHO consultation, Geneva, Switzerland, 26-29 November 2001


Introduction (from document)

Global surveillance of foodborne disease: Developing a strategy and its interaction with risk analysis. Report of a WHO consultation 1 A World Health Organization (WHO) Consultation on Developing a Strategy for Global Surveillance of Foodborne Diseases and its Interaction with Risk Analysis was held in Geneva (Switzerland) from 26 to 29 November 2001. It was jointly organized by the Emerging Public Health Risks including Drug Resistance Team (Department of Communicable Diseases Surveillance and Response) and the Food Safety Programme (Department of the Protection of Human Environment) with the technical collaboration of the Food Quality and Standards Service (Food and Nutrition Division) of FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). A total of 55 experts, including secretariat, participated in the consultation.

The Consultation was opened by Dr G. Rodier, Director, Department of Communicable Disease Surveillance and Response (CSR) and Dr Jørgen Schlundt, Coordinator, Food Safety Programme (FOS), Protection of the Human Environment (PHE). Dr Rodier opened the consultation on behalf of the Director-General of WHO and the Executive Director of the Department of Communicable Diseases (CDS). In his statement, Dr Rodier noted that there was a need to strengthen WHOs abilities to assess the magnitude of the foodborne disease problem and improve the capacity to determine the sources and causes of foodborne diseases.

Dr G. Rodier stressed that the problem is multifactorial and that strategies for prevention and control consequently require a multidisciplinary and intersectoral approach through the participation and collaboration of multiple partners at both the levels of the decision makers and experts (in medicine, food science and veterinary sciences).

Reminding the participants of the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution (WHA) 53.15 that encourages the Member States “to implement and keep national and, when appropriate, regional mechanisms for foodborne disease surveillance”, Dr Rodier noted that a “network-of-networks” could facilitate and support the development of national systems for the detection and response to foodborne diseases as an integral part of their overall national public health surveillance systems.

In his welcoming address Dr J. Schlundt, on behalf of Executive Director of Sustainable Development and Health (SDE), drew attention to the fact that we must improve our abilities to link pathogens in food to disease in humans. This can be achieved through the enhancement of surveillance not only of human disease but also of pathogens throughout the food production chain and by systematic microbiological risk assessment. The latter being especially helpful in the ranking of risks and in setting priorities. Also there is a need to facilitate the linking of patient data and food chain data.

A farm-to-fork perspective should be ensured in the development of strategies to prevent and control the major problems of foodborne disease. The interaction between risk assessors and surveillance epidemiologists should be enhanced to improve the use of surveillance data in risk assessment and to improve surveillance programmes to better address risk assessment needs.

The consultation elected Dr K Wachsmuth as chairperson and Dr H. Wegener as rapporteur. The consultation also appointed a chairperson for each working group. Dr A. Reilly and Dr A. Ellis were nominated chairperson and rapporteur respectively for the working group on the Network of Networks. Dr E. Esteban and Dr A. Lammerding were nominated chairperson and raporteur respecti vely for the working group on Risk Analysis. The detailed agenda is included as Annex 1, the list of participants as Annex 2.