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ASSESSING THE PREVALENCE AND CAUSES OF FOODBORNE ILLNESSES IN IJEBU ODE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

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ASSESSING THE PREVALENCE AND CAUSES OF FOODBORNE ILLNESSES IN IJEBU ODE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the Study

Globally, it is observed that approximately one out of every 10 individuals experience illness as a result of consuming contaminated food. This issue is particularly prevalent in Africa, with the highest incidence, followed by Southeast Asia. Conversely, Europe reports the lowest burden of food-borne diseases. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2015), it is estimated that 92 million individuals in Africa become ill due to the consumption of contaminated foods, leading to approximately 137,000 fatalities annually. However, it appears that food safety is not considered a significant concern in numerous countries within this continent. For instance, in Ghana, Mali, Kenya, and Uganda, food safety does not appear to be a major concern (Flockhart, 2019). In Nigeria, it is evident that there is a lack of sufficient capacity to accurately predict and monitor food-borne diseases, despite the occurrence of numerous outbreaks in various areas of the state. This issue is particularly concerning among school children (Rebgui, 2016). This suggests the importance of implementing a robust surveillance system, capable of effectively monitoring the occurrence of a food-borne illness and mitigating its transmission. 

Foodborne illnesses are indeed a significant public health concern worldwide, especially in rural communities where access to safe food and adequate healthcare may be limited. In Nigeria, foodborne illnesses pose a significant threat to the well-being of rural populations, with numerous factors contributing to their occurrence and multiple consequences affecting individuals and communities. 

Inline with the above, there are several factors that contribute to the occurrence of foodborne illnesses in rural communities in Nigeria. Among them are inadequate food safety practices along the food production, processing, distribution, and preparation chain, which significantly increase the risk of contamination and subsequent illnesses (Ajayi et al., 2019). Furthermore, it is important to note that poor hygiene practices, such as improper handwashing, inadequate sanitation facilities, and lack of clean water sources, can significantly worsen the problem at hand. These factors create an environment in which pathogens can thrive and spread easily, as highlighted by Eze et al. (2020). Furthermore, it is important to note that in rural areas, there may be limited access to refrigeration and proper storage facilities. This can result in the spoilage of perishable foods and the growth of harmful bacteria, as highlighted by Ameh et al. (2018). 

Moreover, it is important to note that socioeconomic factors have a substantial impact on the prevalence of foodborne illnesses within rural communities. Poverty, lack of education, and inadequate healthcare infrastructure may impede individuals' capacity to obtain safe and nutritious food, resulting in the consumption of contaminated or improperly prepared meals (Fagbamila et al., 2019). Traditional food preservation and processing methods, although culturally significant, may also pose risks if not executed correctly (Ajayi et al., 2019). Furthermore, it is important to note that climate-related factors, such as flooding and inadequate agricultural practices, have the potential to contribute to the contamination of food crops and water sources. This, in turn, can significantly heighten the probability of foodborne diseases (Murray et al., 2016). 

The consequences of foodborne illnesses in rural communities in Nigeria are manifold and impact both individuals and communities. At the individual level, foodborne illnesses may lead to various symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and fever (Ameh et al., 2018). In severe cases, particularly among vulnerable populations such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly, foodborne diseases can lead to hospitalisation, long-term health complications, and even death (Fagbamila et al., 2019). Furthermore, it is important to note that the economic burden resulting from medical treatment and the subsequent loss of productivity caused by illness can significantly worsen poverty and food insecurity within rural households (Dedeh et al., 2015). 

At the community level, foodborne illnesses can have broader implications for public health, agriculture, and socioeconomic development. Outbreaks of foodborne diseases may place additional strain on healthcare resources in rural areas, resulting in overcrowded clinics and hospitals and diverting attention and resources away from other health priorities (Oloo et al., 2014). Furthermore, it is worth noting that the decrease in agricultural productivity caused by the absence of farmers due to illness can have far-reaching consequences on both food security and economic stability within rural communities (Fagbamila et al., 2019). Furthermore, it is important to note that the adverse publicity associated with foodborne outbreaks has the potential to harm the reputation of regional food producers and weaken the trust that consumers have in locally sourced goods. This can have significant consequences on the livelihoods of those involved in the industry and their ability to access the market (Barungi et al., 2018). 

1.2 Statement of the Problem 

Foodborne diseases (FBD) are a significant externality of agriculture and food systems, and they can be described as 'illnesses resulting from the consumption of food that is unsafe due to contamination or the presence of natural hazards.' A hazard is any element present in food that has the potential to negatively impact human health, regardless of whether or not it actually manifests any adverse effects. On the other hand, a risk can be defined as the amalgamation of the adverse effects of a hazard and the probability of those adverse effects occurring. In essence, it encompasses the actual damage to human health. FBDs have long been a concern in low-income countries where many infectious diseases are hardly controlled or eradicated. 

Foodborne illnesses present a substantial public health concern in rural communities in Nigeria, where there may be limited access to safe food and sufficient healthcare. One of the issues that arises in relation to Foodborne illness is the presence of insufficient food safety practices in rural communities, as well as poor hygiene practices, among other factors (Lawan et al., 2020). Furthermore, it is important to note that the limited access to refrigeration and proper storage facilities can significantly heighten the likelihood of food contamination and spoilage, thereby exacerbating the issue at hand (Raji et al., 2018). 

Consequently, the negative effect of foodborne illnesses in rural communities is significant and has wide-ranging public health implications. According to Abugrain (2018), individuals impacted by foodborne diseases may encounter a variety of symptoms, ranging from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to severe illness and potentially even death. In view of the above, this study seek to assess the prevalence and causes of foodborne illnesses in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area, Cross River State. 

1.3 Objectives Of The Study  

The primary goal of this study is to investigate the prevalence and causes of foodborne illnesses in  Ijebu Ode Local Government Area. Specifically, the study will; 

Evaluate the prevalence of Foodborne illnesses in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area.

Evaluate the factors contributing to Foodborne illnesses in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area.

Evaluate the consequences of Foodborne illnesses in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area.

1.4 Research Questions  

The study will be guided by the following; 

How prevalent are Foodborne illnesses in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area?

What are the factors contributing to Foodborne illnesses in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area?

What are the consequences of Foodborne illnesses in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

Ho: There is no high prevalent of Foodborne illnesses in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area.

Ha: There is a high prevalent of Foodborne illnesses in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area.

1.6 Significance Of The Study  

The findings of this study will provide valuable insights for policymakers, public health officials, and healthcare practitioners involved in food safety and disease prevention initiatives. The study will inform targeted interventions aimed at improving food safety standards and reducing the incidence of foodborne diseases. From a theoretical perspective, this study will contribute to the existing body of knowledge on Foodborne illnesses by providing empirical evidence on the specific factors influencing their occurrence and public health implications in rural communities in Nigeria. 

1.7 Scope Of The Study  

Broadly, this study will focus on the prevalence and causes of foodborne illnesses in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area. Geographically, this study will be carried out in Ijebu Ode Local Government Area.

1.8 Limitations Of The Study  

Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview). 

Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work. 

However in the midst above mentioned limitation the researcher will devoutly ensure that the purpose of the study will be actualized. 

1.9 Definition Of Terms 

Food hygiene: This involves all practices carried out to ensure the safety and suitability of food at all stages of the food chain. 

Food Safety: Assurance that food will not cause harm to consumers when it is eaten according to its intended use. 

Food Poisoning: Is an illness affecting our digestive system that result from eating food or drinking water contaminated by bacteria, bacterial toxins, or less commonly by residues of insecticides (on fruits and vegetables), or poisonous chemical such as lead, mercury, etc. it can also be caused by ingestion of fungi, berries, etc. that irritates the digestive system(Monney, Agyei, & Owusu, 2018).


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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