NIGERIA – The TransfatfreeNigeria coalition has urged the relevant agencies to expedite action that will lead to the gazetting of the trans-fat regulation, which seeks to help reduce the rising cases of non-communicable diseases and improve food safety in the country.
The coalition made the call at a briefing “No More Delay on Transfats Regulation” in Abuja to commemorate the World Food Day.
Speaking at the briefing, coalition partner and Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Akinbode Oluwafemi, said that the role of diet in preventing and controlling the morbidity and premature mortality resulting from various non-communicable diseases (NCDs), cannot be overemphasized, hence the need to eliminate the consumption of foods high in trans-fat.
Akinbode hinted that the world faces two major problems which are the challenge of providing a healthy diet and the issue of hunger which leads to malnutrition, death, and abnormal growth in children.
He said that the passage of the regulation will in great measure improve the wellbeing of Nigerians and lead to better food production, better nutrition and ultimately a better life for all Nigerians.
In her presentation, the Nigeria Coordinator for the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) Resolve to Save Lives Cardiovascular Health Programme, Joy Amafah, said one of the surest ways to eliminate transfats or reduce its consumption limit is through regulation.
Amafah said that for Nigeria, the quick passage of the fats of oils regulation will safeguard the lives of millions of its citizens and prevent them from harmful fat.
This, according to her, will raise a healthy population today and in the future. She listed some countries that have passed trans-fat-free legislations that Nigeria can emulate. They include India and Philippines, while Bangladesh is on its way to putting in place a legislation.
World Health Organization REPLACE Package
“We are looking at Nigeria joining the list of heroic countries who have enacted best practices to eliminate trans-fat in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) REPLACE Package,” expressed Amafah.
The Federal Government of Nigeria, Amafah enlightened, through the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), started this process in 2018.
“We truly commend their efforts thus far and we are extremely excited to learn that NAFDAC has completed their update on the fats and oils regulation. And now, the baton has been passed on to the Ministry of health to review, approve, and advance it to the Ministry of Justice for gazetting,” she said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) representative at the event, Dr Kazadi Walter Mulombo, earlier said that elimination of industrially produced trans-fatty acids from the food supply is one of their priority targets as indicated in the 13th General Program of Work.
Mulombo who was represented by Dr. Obagha Chijioke said in view of this, the REPLACE package aimed at supporting governments to eliminate industrially produced TFA from the global food supply was launched in 2018.
“We have been supporting the Government of Nigeria and other critical key stakeholders in this regard through funding support from the Resolve to Save Lives programme,” he noted.
Others who spoke at the events were Nutrition Policy Advisor at Resolve to Save Lives, Dr Maryam Al-Mansur and the Technical Advisor of Trans-fat Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), Dr. Jerome Mafeni, who revealed that every day, more than three people in Nigeria die in part due to trans-fat consumption.
The coalition urged the Nigerian government to expedite actions to gazette the draft trans-fat regulation and its swift implementation to safeguard the lives of the citizens, as reported by Vanguard.
They also urged the government to continue sensitization of citizens on the dangers of trans-fat consumption and the need for continuous collaborations between the civil society organizations and government.