Who is to blame for Listeriosis re­lated deaths?

African Times - - Leader -

AS the coun­try grap­ples with the out­break of Listeriosis, the pub­lic has more ques­tions than an­swers. The back and forth media ac­cu­sa­tions by the Depart­ment of Health and Tiger Brands is not help­ing the sit­u­a­tion. Gov­ern­ment says the out­break orig­i­nated from Tiger Brands’Lim­popo fac­tory and sub­se­quently led to the death of 180 peo­ple, but the com­pany says there is no link be­tween the deaths and its prod­ucts. The CEO ad­mit­ted that when tests were con­ducted, small lev­els of the air­borne Listeriosis were de­tected.

This is ex­tremely crit­i­cal. Let us put aside his de­nial­ism and deal with this as­pect of small lev­els be­ing found. The gov­ern­ment must now come out and ex­plain to South Africans why even small traces are al­lowed.

Why should our health be put in dan­ger by al­low­ing for small lev­els to even be present? Both gov­ern­ment and the com­pany should take re­spon­si­bil­ity for this tragedy. The same jus­tice that was called for when men­tally ill pa­tients died dur­ing the Life Esidi­meni tragedy should be ad­vo­cated for.

The coun­try and fam­i­lies of those who died deserve an­swers and the com­pany must pro­vide them. The com­pany must also foot the bill for all the fu­ner­als, be made to com­pen­sate the fam­i­lies and even be hit with a hefty price.

It’s not the first time the com­pany has been in the wrong. De­ci­sive ac­tion is now needed. A strong mes­sage must be sent to all com­pa­nies not to flout health stan­dards and reg­u­la­tions. Gov­ern­ment must also pull its socks. After Mot­soaledi’s an­nounce­ment in De­cem­ber, what steps were taken to en­sure that the sit­u­a­tion does not be­come worse?

Go­ing for­ward, how will South Africans be pro­tected? How will the poor in the town­ships who are reg­u­lar con­sumers of these foods be pro­tected? Many of our peo­ple con­sume Kota and the main in­gre­di­ents are those cold foods. Gov­ern­ment must make sure those tuck shops don’t sell the prod­ucts and lead to more deaths.

This are just some of the ques­tions which peo­ple need an­swers to. Gov­ern­ment must come to the party and ad­e­quately deal with this mat­ter.

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