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Latest on Economic Impacts of Aflatoxins in Africa and PACA Efforts to Catalyze Mitigation of the Problem

The Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) is a collaboration that aims to protect crops, livestock, and ultimately, people from the effects of aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are highly toxic metabolites that affect the safety of food and feed in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, including Africa.

PACA is catalyzing aflatoxin mitigation and management across the health, agriculture and trade sectors of Africa. Recently, it conducted Country-led Situation Analysis and Action Planning (C-SAAP) studies along selected value chains in pilot countries of Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, The Gambia and Uganda. 

In Uganda, aflatoxin related illnesses are estimated to cost the government an additional $910,000 on health services annually. This happens because aflatoxin related diseases increase demand for medical supplies and technical personnel at government-funded health centers, thus generating a fiscal impact. This cost was revealed by a C-SAAP study conducted from 2014 to 2017 in Uganda by PACA.

The  studies revealed that in Uganda, apart from the extra cost the Government incurs due to aflatoxin related illnesses, up to $577 million may be lost, annually, due to aflatoxin related liver cancer incidence. The financial losses attributable to aflatoxin related liver cancer are even higher in Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania.  Findings from the C-SAAP studies revealed annual financial losses attributable to aflatoxin-related liver cancer of up to $1,599 million (in Nigeria), $1,100 million (in Tanzania) and $902 million (in Senegal). In Malawi and The Gambia the annual losses were relatively lower at $392.6 million and $22.5 million, respectively. These losses represent the amount of monies that could be saved annually by adopting measures to curb aflatoxin contamination in each of the PACA pilot countries.

The problem of aflatoxin contamination in staple foods in Africa can be controlled with novel mitigation measures that are designed to suit different conditions prevailing in each country. The C-SAAP studies helped identify gaps in aflatoxin control systems in each of the countries and designed interventions to cover the whole food value chain, from farm to table. The interventions are aimed at enabling farmers, traders, processors, policymakers and consumers to prevent aflatoxin contamination in food; enhance research and knowledge of aflatoxin prevention strategies; raise awareness of aflatoxin-related impacts; improve systems for the regulation of aflatoxins in food; and enable consumers to minimize their risk of aflatoxin exposure and the consequent effects. If governments and development partners invest in implementation of the interventions, the countries may achieve the vision of a community free of harmful effects of aflatoxins. For more information:  www.aflatoxinpartnership.org