Stakeholders in the health sector from the five states of the South-East region have advocated 20 per cent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to reduce high sugar consumption by Nigerians.
The forum, organised by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), with support from the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), lamented the rise in cases of overweight and obesity in children, adolescents and adults, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, cancer, renewal problems and non communicable diseases (NCD) among the citizens due to consumption of high sugar.
CAPPA is a pan-African organisation devoted to working with African communities to build partnerships towards taking collective social action for the promotion and defence of the rights of people.
Rising from a meeting, yesterday, in Enugu, the stakeholders lauded the decision of the Federal Government to impose a N10 per litre excise duty on SSBs.
They, however, sought a review of the N10 excise duty as it falls short of the 20 per cent of the final retail price of SSB products recommended by the WHO.
“The government of Nigeria must not allow itself to be blackmailed by profiteers who have no regard for decency of human lives, but only about their returns on investment even if it means the health of Nigerians take a hit.
“The government of Nigeria must remain steadfast in its dedication to combating non-communicable diseases through consumption tax on alcohol and tobacco, improved investment in the health sector and robust collaboration with stakeholders to chart an effective policy pathway for public health.
“Government should increase taxation on SSBs to achieve a 20 per cent increase in the final retail price of targeted sugary drinks as recommended by WHO,’’ the communique read.
The forum noted that SSBs offer no nutritional value but constitute huge public health and economic burdens for the country.
It recommended sustained collaboration by governments at state and federal levels to engender public awareness on the health risks of SSB consumption and the benefits of the SSBs tax policy.
It also recommended that traditional and educational institutions, civil society organisations, the media and healthcare providers, among others, should be actively engaged in the campaign against SSBs.
“They should be at the forefront of correcting industry misinformation on SSB tax and local communities must not be left out of these processes.”
“The Federal Government should work in collaboration with state governments to expand the coverage of taxes to include sugar-sweetened beverages that are currently not taxed.
“There is a need for national legislation that advocates for the imposition of a pro-health tax and the need for the government to ensure healthier alternatives to SSBs are affordable and readily available.
“The Federal Government should encourage the Ministry of Agriculture to support farmers and the fresh fruits industry to grow more fruits to produce healthy drinks as replacements for unhealthy drinks.
“Parents should also prioritise what their wards consume, particularly avoid consuming products that contain too much sugar,’’ the communique added.
Source: The Guardian