Meru county residents have been urged to be more proactive in ensuring they consumed healthy food in support of national and county government efforts to contain the increasing number of cancer patients in the region.
Speaking to the media, Public Health Chief Officer, John Inanga said Meru was among counties leading in the number of cancer cases yet it was not among counties with many industries associated with emitting cancer causing chemicals into the air.
Inanga said the county government had partnered with other players in the health sector to carry out surveys and research on the factors leading to the high number of cancer cases in the region, and the cases were found to be an outcome of what the people placed on their tables as food.
The officer said maize, sorghum and millet were found to be most affected farm produce, adding that more often than not, the three types of cereals which were mainly consumed at family level, often tested positive for aflatoxin at the local testing laboratory.
He encouraged the public to make maximum use of the aflatoxin testing laboratory established by the county government in partnership with Texas University USA and the University of Nairobi to get to the root cause of the food contamination in the region.
Inanga said the laboratory has been testing samples from cereal traders, learning institutions, flour millers among other entities handling cereals, although the problem was far from being solved as some traders and farmers were still adamant at the expense of public health safety.
The officer said the county government had brought other players on board to ensure the public was adequately sensitized on the importance of ensuring all food harvests were kept from getting into contact with the soil which carries the fungi that grows into aflatoxin especially in an environment where the moisture content was above 15 per cent.
He added that farmers should embrace the culture of drying all cereals properly before storing for domestic consumption or sale to traders.
By Brenda Gakii and Makaa Margaret