Hold erring NADMO officers

BY: Daily Graphic
Some of the expired items
Some of the expired items

Statistics on the adverse effects of unsafe food on the population are startling.

According to the World Health Organisation, the consumption of unsafe food causes about 200 diseases, including diarrhoea and cancers, as unwholesome food contains harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances.

More astonishing is the revelation by the World Food Programme that about one in 10 people in the world falls ill after eating contaminated food, with 420,000 people dying every year.

In line with this, distributors of food aid follow strict criteria and procedures to prevent any contamination.

Mostly food is given through dry rations and cooked food is organised only when people do not have the means to cook for themselves or in situations of insecurity where the

distribution of dry rations could put recipients at risk.

In this context, the Daily Graphic is alarmed that some food that was distributed to flood victims in the Upper West Region has turned to be unwholesome. We are upset because the issue has created a huge embarrassment for the country, especially when the presentation of the food items was done by the Vice-President of the land.

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Regrettably, that is how public office has mainly been handled in this country. We wonder how many public organisations would pass the litmus test with same or similar episode.

Interestingly, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) initially denied the report and that single act has brought the image of the organisation into disrepute.

It is, nevertheless, heart-warming that NADMO has accepted full responsibility for the mishap and is taking measures to retrieve the items.

But the Daily Graphic thinks no matter how one looks at it, the distribution of expired food is not pardonable, whether it was little or not.

There are many questions that NADMO should answer to put the minds of the masses at ease and assure the citizenry that this has not happened before and that it is not going to recur.

Does NADMO take inventory of items in its warehouses to ascertain those that have expired? Are expired goods stored in the same structure with good ones? For how long have these expired products been in the warehouse and how long are they kept in the warehouse before destruction? Were the expired items labelled as such at the warehouse? How were the loaders who packed the food items into vehicles able to determine whether they were loading wholesome food or otherwise? Where were supervisors when the loading was being done?

We urge the organisation to do the retrieval with urgency, otherwise, some of the beneficiaries will consume the expired items, which will be a recipe for disaster.

NADMO should also accept the unfortunate fact that the right procedures were not adopted and that supervision was lax and do a careful appraisal to ensure that this does not happen again.

Elsewhere in other jurisdictions, officers whose irresponsibility led to this would have tendered in their resignation immediately.

It is, however, good to hear that the stores manager in the region has been interdicted and a fact-finding committee set up to investigate the occurrence.

We are sure anyone whose negligence contributed to this highly preventable incident would be brought to book.

It is only by doing this that the disaster management organisation can win back the trust and confidence of the people, which it badly needs for the successful execution of its mandate.