World Vision cares deeply about the well-being of children and their families in Cambodia. Following the food contamination incident at a child labour awareness-raising event in Chikreng district, Siem Reap province, World Vision has taken new measures to reduce the risk of food poisoning incidents being repeated by introducing a new Community Event Risk Assessment.
The new measures are in response to the suspected food poisoning (diarrhoea, vomiting, and dizziness), which affected more than 800 people who received refreshments consisting of a baguette sandwich filled with meat and vegetable pickle. A Chikreng district youth group prepared the refreshments, as an income generating activity, paid for by World Vision.
Immediately upon learning of the incident, World Vision staff worked hand in hand with health centre staff and the local authorities to ensure that people were being treated quickly and effectively and that families, especially those with young children, were comfortable during their stay at the health centres. As of the 2nd of April 2015, all patients had been discharged from hospital and were back home.
World Vision’s new Community Event Risk Assessment is a helpful and practical process for staff and community to be able to assess associated risks of the different elements (including food safety) of holding community events, and for World Vision’s management to be able to make informed decisions based on the risk rating given. It is a process that will help guide and educate staff and communities on how to better and more safely run community events.
Commenting on the large task at hand when it comes to water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in Cambodia, World Vision’s Operations Director, Vibol Chab said, “as we observe World Health Day and it’s safe food theme, it is timely to highlight the broader state of Cambodia’s WASH environment, understanding and practices”, adding that this incident also puts a spotlight on the agricultural food production chain, from farm to market to home, where minimal standards exist and less are enforced.
“There are many instances along the chain where food can become contaminated, with little to no refrigeration and bad practices like spraying food at the market with insect killer to keep the flies away, it’s fortunate incidents like this don’t happen more”.
Dr Mary Mohan, World Vision’s Senior Health and Nutrition Programme Manager said, “It is part of our concern also, that some of the recent patients may continue to consume non-boiled water, which can cause diarrhoea. Therefore, our staff will conduct small group gatherings to orient them on the various aspects of good sanitation and hygiene practices,” adding that the gatherings are expected to start this week.
World Vision is fully cooperating with the investigations being run concurrently by the Government and by the World Health Organisation in Cambodia, and will use the findings once the investigations are complete, to further educate children, youth and communities about the importance of food safety.
Notes to editor:
The Community Event Risk Assessment document can be made available upon request.
Immediately upon being made aware of the incident, World Vision responded:
- Sent staff to help the health centers prepare for treating large numbers of people and had ambulances ready to send patients to the provincial hospital if any cases were more serious - Installed tents so that there was enough space for people receiving treatment to stay under cover and in the shade - Prepared vehicles to transport patients back to the community once they were discharged
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