The Emergency Centre for Trans-boundary Animal Diseases of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO-ECTAD) is working with some key institutions in Ghana to improve the meat value chain.
Dr. Garba Maina Ahmed, the Country Team Leader of the Centre, said the objectives hinged on ensuring meat safety and quality, given the dynamics of zoonotic diseases.
“We are collaborating with researchers and scientists from the School of Veterinary Medicine, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (SVM-KNUST), as well as Ministry of Food and Agriculture to protect public health through wholesome meat consumption,” he observed.
Dr. Ahmed, addressing participants at the ongoing training workshop for stakeholders in the meat value chain, at Boadi in the Oforikrom Municipality, said zoonotic diseases had serious implications on human health.
The majority of emerging infectious diseases over recent decades, including the COVID-19 pandemic, had been caused by zoonotic viruses and bacteria, he noted.
“It is, therefore, important that scientists and technocrats share knowledge and partner effectively in making advances to understand the origins and drivers of zoonotic epidemics,” Dr. Ahmed said.
The four-day programme is being organised by the SVM-KNUST and FAO, and targeting veterinary meat inspectors, livestock farmers, livestock transporters, livestock traders and consumers.
It is discussing the role of each of the actors in the meat value chain in the production of wholesome and safe meat, good hygienic and manufacturing practices.
Dr. Ahmed indicated that the training had been designed to provide practical learning to veterinary meat inspectors on ante and post-mortem examinations at slaughter facilities.
“The activities of each of these actors are linked in one way or the other to the quality of meat produced at the end for the consumers,” he said.
According to the Country Team Leader, the FAO in September, last year, trained 85 veterinary personnel in the screening of animals for zoonoses in slaughter facilities in the country.
Other activities that FAO had conducted on meat safety, included the mapping of slaughter establishments in Ghana, sensitisation of butchers and development of guidelines for the meat inspection technical committee.
Dr. Blaise Ouattara, the Regional Food Safety and Quality Officer for Africa, FAO, in his submission, said identifying the origins of zoonotic pathogens, understanding factors influencing disease transmission and improving the diagnostic capacity of clinicians were critical to early detection and prevention of further epidemics of zoonoses.
Professor Christian Agyare, Provost of the College of Health Sciences, KNUST, assured that the University was determined to provide the needed platform to train stakeholders on the emerging trends in the meat value chain.
This, he said, was necessary to build the capacity of key actors, including veterinary meat inspectors for the rapid recognition and reporting of zoonotic diseases in slaughter facilities.
Prof. Benjamin O. Emikpe, Dean, SVM-KNUST, explained that the main concept underpinning the training workshop was to sensitise actors in the meat value chain to appreciate their roles and responsibilities in ensuring meat safety for consumers.
Topics being discussed included ‘Safe Meat Handling Practices’, ‘Non-Conformity Clauses (Penalties) of Meat Inspection Regulation L.I.2405’, ‘Concept and Approaches to Meat Inspection’, ‘Slaughter Procedures’, ‘Zoonotic Diseases in Ghana’, and ‘Understanding the National Food Control System’.