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One-third of total global deaths caused by food-borne diseases are of children aged under five years, despite the fact that they make up only nine percent of the world's population, says a WHO report.[/caption]
One-third of total global deaths caused by food-borne diseases are of children aged under five years, despite the fact that they make up only nine percent of the world's population, says a WHO report.
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The report, which is considered to be one of the most comprehensive by WHO on food-borne diseases, estimates the burden of food-borne diseases caused by 31 agents including bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals affecting as many as 600 million people, or almost 1 in 10, in the world after consuming contaminated food.
Of these, 420,000 people die, including 125,000 children under the age of five years.
"Until now, estimates of food-borne diseases were vague and imprecise. This concealed the true human costs of contaminated food. This report sets the record straight," said Margaret Chan, WHO director general, while releasing the report.
She said knowing which food-borne pathogens are causing the biggest problems in which parts of the world can generate targeted action by the public, governments and the food industry.
According to WHO, African and South-East Asia regions have the highest incidence and highest death rates caused by food borne diseases.
"These estimates are the result of a decade of work, including input from more than 100 experts from around the world. Based on what we know now, it is apparent that the global burden of food borne diseases is considerable, affecting people all over the world - particularly children under five years of age and people in low-income areas," said Kazuaki Miyagishima, director of WHO's department of food safety and zoonoses.
Diarrhoea is responsible for more than half of the global burden of food borne diseases, causing 550 million people to fall ill and 230,000 deaths every year.
Children are at particular risk of food-borne diarrhoeal diseases, with 220 million falling ill and 96,000 dying every year.
Among other major food borne diseases causing devastation in the world are typhoid fever, hepatitis A, Taenia solium (a tapeworm) and aflatoxin (produced by mould on grain that is stored inappropriately).