Dr Poonam K Singh, regional director, WHO South-East Asia Region (Photo Courtesy: www.www.dailymail.co.uk)
Three in ten children, under the age of five years, suffer from diarrhea which is a major childhood killer in the Region.
These statistics from WHO's first ever report on the estimated burden of foodborne disease underscores the need to take immediate measures to make food safety a public health priority.
"The Region accounts for more than half of the global infections and deaths due to typhoid fever or hepatitis A. Foodborne diseases account for a significant proportion of the burden of disease in the Region. Diarrheal diseases are the leading cause of foodborne disease burden in the Region. Some 55 million children under the age of five fall ill and 32000 die from diarrheal diseases in the South-East Asia Region every year," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.
Food contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins and chemicals are the main causes of foodborne diseases.
Consumption of unsafe food causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea as an immediate effect, and has more serious long-term implications such as cancer, failure of kidney and liver and brain and neural disorders.