Food safety prioritised for SEA Games in Laos 2009

Posted by samakomlao Monday, April 28, 2008

Health officials in Laos will inspect food outlets and certify those which have safe food during the 2009 South East Asian (SEA) Games.

The move is designed to inspire consumer confidence in local food during the games, according to Dr Alongkone Phengsavanh from the University of Health Sciences ' Department of Postgraduate Studies and Research.

Dr Alongkone, who is also head of the Lao National Olympic Doping Control Committee, and a member of the Asia Doping Control Committee, said officials would inspect food hygiene and the quality of drinking water in food shops.

“We will flag those food shops which have food that is up to standard, as well as organic food shops, so customers can be confident eating there,” he said. He said SEA Games athletes would also be told which places were safe to eat at.

Certification will be issued by the Food and Drug Department under the Ministry of Public Health, the Food and Drug Analysis Centre and the Vientiane Public Health Department with assistance from technical staff from the World Health Organisation.

Indonesia and Malaysia have requested halal food and Dr Alongkone assured them Laos would be able to provide this.

The health and well-being of visiting athletes and officials will be a high priority for SEA Games organisers.

Vientiane 's three main hospitals Mahosot, Setthathirath and Mittaphab will be capable of treating the athletes, and medical staff will be sent to each sporting event with ambulances.

In Vientiane about 100 doctors, 150 nurses and 70 cleaners and cleaning inspectors will be assigned to these duties.

Medical staff, security of ficials and fire safety officials will undergo training to ensure they are prepared for any unexpected emergencies.

In addition to monitoring the health of athletes, a number of doctors will be tasked with making sure the SEA Games remain drug free.

About 70 staff members will be responsible for testing urine for prohibited substances.

Outside of the capital, events are also planned in Luang Prabang and Champassak provinces. Thirty doctors and nurses and 20 cleaning inspectors will be assigned to each province.

Dr Alongkone will pay special attention to ensuring Lao athletes do not accidentally consume medicines containing banned substances and medical staff will be trained on this issue.

“ Although this work is new and challenging, there is nothing to be worried about because we are well prepared and I personally gained experience at the Asian Games in Doha , Qatar , and the Athens Olympics. I have also worked on previous SEA Games and I will gain even more experience at the 2008 Olympics in China ,” he said.

He said members of the team that will conduct doping testing in Laos learnt their skills in China , Singapore , Malaysia , Thailand and the Philippines . China will send technical staff to help during the games.

The officials will also develop campaigns on issues of disease prevention and environmental protection.

These plans were approved at the 25 th SEA Games Council Meeting held last week in Vientiane.

By Souksakhone Vaenkeo

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