Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, account for quarter of total deaths in Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has revealed.
This is even as the Agency, in collaboration with Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) and Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), has intensified efforts to eliminate Trans Fatty Acid (TFAs), (a leading cause of NCDs), from food supplies.
The director general, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Christiana Adeyeye, at a press briefing on the newly gazetted fats, oil and food containing Fats and Oil Regulation 2022 and Pre-packaged Food Labelling Regulation 2022, on Monday in Lagos, averred that NCDs are responsible for 74 per cent of all deaths worldwide.
In real terms, Adeyeye alluded that more than 36 million people die annually from NCDs, adding that among these, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death, accounting for 17.5 million deaths annually. “Meanwhile, in Nigeria, NCDs are estimated to account for about a quarter of total death in Nigeria. This means that the probability of dying between ages 30 and 70 years from NCDs is 20 per cent,” she disclosed.
At the 2018 World Health Assembly in Geneva, the DG averred that the WHO released an action package called REPLACE that includes policy recommendations and interventions for world leaders, adding that part of the recommendations was to ban the use of partially hydrogenated oils, that is the source of industrially produced TFAs, in all foods and to set limits on the amount of industrially produced TFAs, to not more than two per cent of the total fat content in all Foods.
In line with these recommendations, Adeyeye disclosed that NAFDAC with the co-operation, collaboration, and support of the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Justice and the Trans-Fat Coalition Partners which include CAPPA, GHAI and NHED, has worked assiduously towards achieving the two-prong pathways.
To this end, the Agency is currently working with the industry and partners to find an alternative source to the existing partially hydrogenated oils that are the source of industrially produced Trans-fats, the DG said, even as she disclosed that, “the Agency has reviewed the Fats and Oil regulation 2005 and now has a newly gazetted reviewed regulation known as Fats, Oil and Food Containing Fats and Oil Regulation 2022.
“This regulation has also addressed the second pathway for elimination of industrially TFAs with the limit of not more than two per cent (0.02ppm) of the total fats in a fat, oil and food containing fats and oil products as recommended by WHO. In addition, the Pre-packaged Food Labelling Regulation 2005 has also been reviewed to take care of the labelling requirement for Trans-fats hence we now have a reviewed and gazetted Pre-Packaged Food Labelling Regulation 2022.”
In the same vein, the executive director, CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said with these regulations, stakeholders will be able to combat some risk factors of NCDs, while applauding NAFDAC for its resilience and dedication to safeguarding the health of the Nation through partnerships.
Since the inception of the WHO REPLACE Action Framework, over 43 countries have passed relevant policies to set standards for TFA consumption in line with global best practice, Nigeria coordinator, GHAI, Joy Amafah disclosed, adding that “Nigeria now stands as the first country in West Africa and the 2nd country in Africa after South Africa to set mandatory standards for TFA, maintaining their place as the giant of Africa and an example for others within the region to emulate.”
Amafah however assured that GHAI will continue to partner with NAFDAC and relevant MDAs on their related food programmes towards achieving healthier food options and ultimately, curbing morbidities and mortalities caused by NCDs.