Gastroenteritis cases among children on the rise

James Kon

There has been an increase in gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomit) cases in the country.

So far this year, a total of 727 cases of gastroenteritis have been reported with a majority of the cases children aged five and below, which is a marked increase from last year’s 605 reported cases.

The worrying increase of gastroenteritis cases in the country was highlighted by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in his address at the launch for the Wholesome Meat Order 2011 (Amendment) 2020 and its regulations, Public Health (Food) Act, Chapter 182, 2000 (Amendment) 2020 organised by Brunei Darussalam Food Authority (BDFA) yesterday.

Gastroenteritis, the minister explained, “is an infection from virus, bacteria or protozoa in the stomach and intestines, which causes diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain and fever. It can be spread through food or drinks that have not been handled improperly, such as storing at suitable temperature for bacteria to grow (between four degrees Celsius to 60 degrees Celsius) or the use of raw food that has been contaminated by germs that can cause gastroenteritis such as salmonella, escherichia coli, campylobacter and others”.

Therefore, the minister added, “it is necessary for us to pay attention and learn from incidents such as this and work towards increasing food safety including proper way of handling fresh meat from the slaughterhouse to the retailers as stated in the Wholesome Meat Order 2011 (Amendment) 2020 and its regulation, Public Health (Food) Act, Chapter 182, 2000 (Amendment) 2020”.

To prevent contamination that can cause food poisoning, the minister stressed, “We need to be proactive, especially for the parties involved at each level of the supply chain network of fresh meat.

“Our community must be aware and know the factors behind durability of fresh meat. Referring to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), fresh meat must be kept at four degrees Celsius and below, while fresh meat that has been left at room temperature (25 to 30 degrees Celsius) for more than two hours is at risk of causing gastroenteritis,” he said.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham also highlighted that BDFA has the responsibility of making sure that fresh meat being sold at local markets are safe to consume and raw materials used by food premises are sourced from slaughter centres that are closely inspected and monitored in accordance to Wholesome Meat Order 2011 (Amendment) 2020 and its regulations, Public Health (Food) Act, Chapter 182, 2000 (Amendment) 2020.