NIGERIA – The House of Representatives and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) have agreed to temporarily lift the ban on the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages packaged in sachets.

The decision, announced by Philip Agbese, the Deputy Spokesman for the House of Representatives, comes in response to the country’s ongoing economic difficulties.

Agbese explained that the resolution was reached following a meeting between the House Committee and NAFDAC officials.

“We all agreed at the meeting that at a certain stage in history, we must move on with our counterparts across the globe. Nevertheless, at the moment, we agreed with NAFDAC that there would be a temporary lifting of the ban until the economy regains its strength,” he said.

The discussions included stakeholders such as NAFDAC, the organized private sector, civil society organizations, and other interested parties.

One of the main recommendations was that the ban’s timing was inopportune, given the current economic situation.

The five-year moratorium initially granted by NAFDAC to the private sector was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic challenges, which hindered compliance with the agreed terms.

In February, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) noted that NAFDAC had begun implementing its 2022 restrictions on the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET, and glass bottles of 200ml and below.

NAFDAC Director-General Mojisola Adeyeye confirmed that the agency had ceased registering such products in 2022 due to concerns about their accessibility, affordability, and potential for abuse, particularly among underage individuals and commercial vehicle operators.

Significant public health and safety concerns drove the decision to ban these alcoholic beverages. Professor Adeyeye emphasized the negative impact of alcohol consumption on youth development and public safety, citing World Health Organization (WHO) data that links alcohol abuse to various health and social issues.

The WHO’s 2018 global report highlighted that harmful alcohol consumption contributes to three million deaths annually worldwide, with Nigeria recording at least 62,172 alcohol-related deaths in 2016. Major causes of these deaths included liver cirrhosis, road traffic injuries, and cancer.

Nigeria ranks as the seventh African nation with a high death rate attributable to alcohol, closely following Equatorial Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Burundi, and Burkina Faso. The Federal Road Safety Commission also reported that 90 percent of road accidents in the country are related to alcohol consumption and hard drugs.

The government aims to revisit and potentially reinstate the ban once the economic situation stabilizes.

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