By Stanley Onyekwere
As part of measures toward preventing and controlling outbreak of food-borne diseases in Abuja, the FCT Administration has unveiled a public health laboratory for screening of food and food items in the Territory.
Unveiling the facility, the Director Administration and Finance Health and Human Services Secretariat (HHSS), Alhaji Musa Abdulraheem, said the secretariat would work toward replicating such laboratory
across the six area councils of the FCT.
Abdulraheem, who is overseeing the affairs of the HHSS, pledged that the Secretariat would continue to give its support to public health whenever the need arose.
He called on staff of the secretariat to continue to put their best in the various departments, adding that it was hard work that earned the secretariat a recent award from the Joint Unions Action Committee (JUAC) FCTA/FCDA.
“The award bestowed on the secretariat was due to hardwork; we shouldn’t stop in that direction,’’ he stressed
Speaking earlier, the Director Public Health Dr Okechukwu Josephine, explained that the laboratory aimed at ensuring that food served to the public was prepared under hygienic environment, especially in the food service establishments.
She noted that the public health laboratory was established in 2017 and had since been a source of revenue generation for the HHSS.
According to her, a total of N10,321,600 was generated by the laboratory in 2017, while in 2018, it collected N24,752,700 and received N17, 238,000 from January till September 2019.
“The inspection of foods and food items in the FCT falls under the purview of the environmental and occupational health division of the Public Health Department.
“Between 2012 and 2016, screening of food establishment with the issue of medical certificates of fitness was being conducted by some private laboratories and some public laboratories under HHSS.
“The engagement of these laboratories to conduct food handlers’ tests experienced some challenges which generated serious concern to the public health department.
“As a result of this, the department resorted to seeking and obtaining approval to operate a public health laboratory within its complex to conduct the screening.
“If this laudable service is fully encouraged and sustained, it would surely be of immense benefit in ensuring safety of food being provided by food establishments in the FCT,” she said.