WHO to update foodborne disease estimates; FERG experts sought

By Guest Author on 11 September 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) is planning to update figures on the burden of foodborne diseases by 2025.

At a meeting of the WHO Executive Board in February in Switzerland, experts discussed food safety under “accelerating efforts on food safety” and recommended adoption of a resolution on “strengthening efforts on food safety.”

The World Health Assembly, held virtually in May, adopted the resolution, which called for WHO to monitor, and to report to member states on, the global burden of foodborne diseases at national, regional and international levels.

It also asked for another report on the global burden of foodborne diseases by 2025 with up-to-date estimates of incidence, mortality and disease burden in terms of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs).

FERG to return

The WHO is now calling for experts to serve on the reactivated advisory group, Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group (FERG), to estimate the global burden of foodborne disease.

The group will advise WHO on the methodology to estimate the global burden of foodborne diseases, review epidemiological data on the disease burden, identify technical gaps and priorities for research, and advise WHO on the development of and methodology to monitor food safety-related indicators.

According to estimates published in 2015 from the FERG, foodborne infections caused 600 million illnesses and 420,000 deaths in 2010. That report produced the first-ever global estimates on the burden of foodborne diseases. It involved 40 advisory panel members that had eight meetings between 2006 and 2014.

Children are disproportionately impacted. According to the WHO FERG estimates, although children younger than 5 years old represent only 9 percent of the global population, 40 percent of the foodborne disease burden is in this age group. There are also differences in the burden of foodborne diseases among sub-regions with the highest observed in Africa.

Boosting evidence base

The First International Conference on Food Safety in Addis Ababa in February 2019 and the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade in Geneva in April 2019 reviewed food safety globally and identified new and emerging challenges.

One issue highlighted in those conferences was the importance of improving the evidence base for food safety decisions through monitoring food hazards, surveillance of foodborne diseases, and estimating the public health and economic burden of foodborne diseases.

Interested applicants should fill out the online application form and submit a resume, filled Declaration of Interest, and a list of publications, no later than Oct. 31.

The FERG will have up to 20 members involved in their personal capacities and meetings are planned annually. They will be appointed for three years and shall be eligible for reappointment.

In August, the WHO issued another call for experts to serve on a technical advisory group (TAG) for two years to advise the agency’s work in food safety.

WHO will update the Global Strategy for Food Safety: safer food for better health and aims to deliver a new plan by 2022. The deadline for this call is Sept. 11.

This article was republished with the permission of Food Safety News and the original article can be viewed here: