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Listeriosis fight is more than rhetoric

Ministry of Health and Population Services and Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) officials deserve a compliment for the job well done.

The two authorities Tuesday and Wednesday inspected shops in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu.

The inspection has been triggered by an outbreak of listeriosis which is linked to consumption of contaminated processed meat products.

The outbreak has affected more than 900 people in South Africa, resulting in over 180 deaths.

In reaction, the South African health authorities ordered the immediate recall of all processed meat products produced in that country.

And, according to media reports, the recalled products are processed meat products that are sold ready-to-eat (also known as polony), which are produced by Tiger Brands Unit – Enterprise Food and RCL Foods.

These products are sold within South Africa and exported to other countries including Malawi.

According to Health Minister Atupele Muluzi, in an inspection, 23 banned meat products from South Africa were found.

To many a people, this means that the government wants to protect its citizens from a deadly disease which has affected one of the largest economies in Africa which has improved health service delivery in its health facilities.

But the effort is, to say the truth, almost negligible and poorly designed.

It makes little sense that in the vast area the inspection tentacles were spread, only 23 meat products could be found. That does not inspire confidence in the populace that the exercise will really yield intended results.

Of course, this apparent laissez-faire attitude in time of danger constitutes some of the key characteristics of Malawi today.

In fact, the mere not-so-pleasing combat against the cholera outbreak that has rocked the country signifies the government’s loss of canines to tear through such social upheaval.

This hopeless state attribute is reinforced by actually general lack of social discipline across the nation. One does not have to look far for suitable characteristics as, presently, the country suffers pervasive deficiencies in legislation and, in particular, law observance and enforcement.

Surely, there should be more banned meat products than the unreasonable number given by Muluzi.

And Muluzi just gives ample evidence to justify the government’s continued neglect of the people’s welfare.

The fight against listeriosis is beyond press conferences without meat. The fight needs the government that is unwilling to expose most if not every Malawian to extreme social and economic shocks.

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