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Expired food, medicine flood Kabul

Expired food, medicine flood Kabul

Aug 12, 2011 - 13:09

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): Poverty, lack of awareness and inadequate government checks have paved the way for the open sale of substandard medicine and food items in Kabul.

Sold cheaply, the spurious drugs are often purchased by the needy and uneducated individuals. Pushcart owners who sell the drugs face no problem in their business and refuse to reveal the supply source.

"Buy the unexpired medicine," shouts a 20-year-old, Ali, after selling eatables. He is in a bid to attract customers. "They are all fresh," he said, pointing to the items in his cart.

When Pajhwok Afghan News showed the boy the expiry date on his foodstuffs, he tended to seek refuge behind illiteracy. 

Islamuddin, who had purchased an expired drink in Pul-i-Kheshti area of Kabul, also linked his mistake to illiteracy and urged the government to collect spurious medicine from the market.

However, educated but economically disadvantaged people deliberately buy the foodstuffs for being inexpensive. Khan Muhammad, wearing old shoes, had bought two "Laila" milk packs. "I know it is expired, but I can afford only this."

Asked why he had purchased the expired product, he replied it cost 12 afghanis in the open market, but he bought it for only 8afs. He has not yet faced any problem, consuming expired foodstuffs. People buy expired medicine and nothing happens to them, he insists.

A Ministry of Public Healthinfo-icon spokesman, admitting the existence of expired foodstuffs in Kabul markets, said they had collected four tonnes of such items this year.

Only 12 people are working in the MoPH to check the quality and expiry of foodstuffs in markets, he said, complaining they are unable to cover the whole city. More than 100 inspectors are needed for the task but the Ministry of Finance does not allow budget for it, he added.

Aziz Shams, spokesperson for the MoF, said they consider MoPH requests based on priority and affordability. He suggested the MoPH could divert finances from other heads to fund inspectors' salaries.

The Ministry of Agricultureinfo-icon, Irrigation and Livestock and the Kabul Municipality are also responsible for inspecting foodstuff quality.

Muhammad Aziz Osmani, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, said they were jointly working with MoPH and Kabul Municipality to inspect food quality. They have jointly collected a huge amount of expired items. They have seven staffers to cover the entire city.

Despite efforts, Pajhwok Afghan News could not reach the municipality for comments on the public health issue. People complain the inspectors take bribes from businessmen. But the officials reject the allegation as baseless.



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