Info

aIssues were: 1 - Awareness of word "aflatoxin"; 2 - Awareness of crop contamination by aflatoxins; 3 -Awareness of peanut contamination by aflatoxins; 4 - Awareness of food/food item contamination by aflatoxins; 5 - Correct indication of foods that could be contaminated with aflatoxins; 6 -Awareness of effects of aflatoxins on animals; and 7 - Correct indication of harmful effects of afla-toxins on animals.

bMean of the means of each of the five categories of agriculturists, i.e., not weighted for the size of the sample for each category.

aIssues were: 1 - Awareness of word "aflatoxin"; 2 - Awareness of crop contamination by aflatoxins; 3 -Awareness of peanut contamination by aflatoxins; 4 - Awareness of food/food item contamination by aflatoxins; 5 - Correct indication of foods that could be contaminated with aflatoxins; 6 -Awareness of effects of aflatoxins on animals; and 7 - Correct indication of harmful effects of afla-toxins on animals.

bMean of the means of each of the five categories of agriculturists, i.e., not weighted for the size of the sample for each category.

qualification for most professionals in Ghana, somewhat < 60% recognized the word "aflatoxin". Profession was not significantly associated with the recognition of the term "mycotoxin", although it was significantly associated with general awareness of the effects of aflatoxins (p < 0.05) and with knowledge of what produced them (p < 0.01). Sex was neither associated with knowledge of the word "aflatoxin" nor with awareness of the effects of mycotoxins on humans. Those within a profession were more likely to discuss information on mycotoxins with their colleagues or their superiors (p < 0.05) than they were with their subordinates.

With respect to the agriculturists, the District and Regional Directors were more aware of aflatoxins (78% positive responses) while Extension Agents were the least aware (51% positive responses; Table 2). The difference in recognition of the term "aflatoxin" varied by their rank and was statistically significant (p < 0.001). Most of the agriculturists, however, did not know of the effects of aflatoxins on animals (Issue 7, Table 2) even though the majority of them had heard of the term "aflatoxin" (Issue 1, Table 2). The reason for these gaps in knowledge regarding aflatoxins in Ghana probably is related to the highly technical nature of the subject and to inadequate dissemination of information on aflatoxins.

In the present study only 14% of the responding professionals have had any formal training on aflatoxins (Issue 14, Table 1) or had attended a workshop on the subject (Issue 12, Table 1). More awareness of the aflatoxin problem is, therefore, needed in Ghana. This process could include workshops during which the subject is properly explained to participants. The participants would then become secondary disseminators of aflatoxin-related information in their community, and would be encouraged to share information on aflatox-ins with others, as aflatoxin information dissemination in Ghana even by agricultural/health and related personnel is poor (Issues 15 and 16, Table 1).

Conclusions

In conclusion, we found that there is some awareness of aflatoxins among health, agricultural and other professionals in Ghana, but that the same cannot be said of the general Ghanaian population. The ignorance of the general populace, together with the inability of most of the responding professionals to accurately identify the harmful effects resulting from af-latoxin exposure, suggests that the problems associated with aflatoxins are not well appreciated in Ghana. Of the professionals, the physicians were the most knowledgeable of aflatox-ins and its associated problems, followed in descending order by pharmacists, biologists, agriculturists, nurses and the other social/physical scientists. Aflatoxin awareness creation workshops should have a central role in aflatoxin management interventions in Ghana. Such workshops should involve all stakeholders, particularly the agricultural extension agents who are the frontline officers in agricultural information dissemination in Ghana and, nurses, who by the nature of their work, associate more closely with patients. These categories of professionals also were the least knowledgeable of aflatoxins and the problems it poses. The relatively low rate of response to the 2003 survey means that a follow-up survey might be worthwhile, especially for physicians, to confirm the accuracy of the present findings.

Acknowledgements

This study was funded by the USAID Peanut CRSP.

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