Mekong Institute (MI), with funding support from the New Zealand Aid Programme, completed the PROSAFE Forum on Food Safety and Quality: A Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration at the Crown Plaza in Laos, Vientiane on October 15, 2019.
Over 25 government, private sector and academic representatives pooled recommendations to strengthen multi-agency collaboration among various ministries, as part of the Ministry of Health’s Plan of Action on Public Health.
Ms. Maria Theresa S. Medialdia, MI’s Director of Agricultural Development for Commercialization, disclosed that access to safe food remains a challenge to many, including citizens in the General Mekong Subregion. Annually 600 million people fall sick due to foodborne illnesses. According to a 2018 World Bank report, foodborne diseases cost low- and middle-income countries US$ 110 billion in lost productivity and medical expenses each year.
Government agencies cannot address the economic and public health burden of foodborne diseases alone. As such, Ms. Medialdia underlined the need for active multi-stakeholder commitment to implement food safety practices that will help address complex challenges such as those resulting from climate change.
Dr. Somthavy Changvisommid, Director General of the Food and Drug Department from Laos’ Ministry of Health, underscored the critical role of all stakeholders in the supply chain from agriculture, public health, the food industry and consumers in disseminating and applying knowledge to support national food safety and quality control systems.
He also lauded MI and the PROSAFE project for linking food safety initiatives in the Mekong Subregion. Dr. Changvisommid shared that a memorandum of understanding to establish cooperation in food safety control systems between the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Government Thailand is in development.
MI’s PROSAFE Forum on Food Safety and Quality: A Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration sought to promote and strengthen national food safety stakeholder networks by shoring better understanding of the impacts of food borne diseases, raising awareness of Thailand’s best food safety practices, and sharing Laos’ latest developments in food safety laws and regulations.
For more information on PROSAFE and its regional training programmes, please visit http://www.mekonginstitute.org/what-we-do/ongoing-projects/food-safety-capability-project/.