Sophie Anderson
Thu, Aug 24, 2023 9:45 PM

Federal Ministry of Health Inaugurates Ad-Hoc Committee on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax

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Federal Ministry of Health Inaugurates Ad-Hoc Committee on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax
The Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria has established an ad-hoc committee on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax (SSB tax) to combat the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the country. The committee aims to develop comprehensive strategies for the effective implementation and expansion of the SSB tax, which will help reduce excessive consumption of sugary drinks and promote public health. Nigeria, being a low- and middle-income country, is striving to improve its health index through evidence-based policies.

ABUJA - The Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria has taken a significant step towards tackling the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by inaugurating an ad-hoc committee on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax (SSB tax). The committee, organized by the Non-Communicable Disease Division of the ministry, consists of representatives from various governmental departments and agencies responsible for implementing the SSB tax in Nigeria.

The primary goal of the ad-hoc committee is to develop sustainable and effective strategies for the implementation and expansion of the SSB tax, with the aim of curbing the excess consumption of sugary drinks. Mrs. Etta Nneka, the Director/Head of the Public Health Department at the Federal Ministry of Health, emphasized the importance of the committee's role in addressing the challenges posed by SSB consumption.

Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike, a member of the ad-hoc committee, outlined the key responsibilities of the committee. These include expanding the scope of the SSB tax to encompass a wide range of sugary beverages, determining the most effective legislative framework, and assessing the current perceptions and barriers related to SSB health taxes.

Nigeria, as a low- and middle-income country, faces significant challenges in healthcare financing, with over 70% of the population paying for health expenses out of pocket. Additionally, NCDs account for 77% of the global 41 million deaths, indicating the urgent need for preventive measures. The implementation of a comprehensive SSB tax can contribute significantly to reducing NCDs and improving the overall health index of the nation.

The ad-hoc committee will also provide valuable advice to the Risk Factor Sub-committee of the National Committee on Non-Communicable Diseases, further strengthening the capacity for addressing NCDs effectively.

Dr. Deborah Odoh, the National Coordinator for the Non-Communicable Diseases Division, highlighted the health risks associated with frequent consumption of SSBs. Dental cavities, tooth decay, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and some forms of cancer are linked to excessive intake of SSBs. Thus, the introduction of the SSB tax aims to reduce the consumption of these beverages and consequent health risks.

The Federal Ministry of Health received commendations from stakeholders at the meeting for its efforts in combatting NCDs and countering the influence of the SSB industry. Akinbode Oluwafemi, the Executive Director of Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), applauded the government's commitment to evidence-based policies and urged the committee to initiate the necessary framework for the effective implementation of the SSB tax in Nigeria. Oluwafemi also advocated for raising the tax to 20% of the final retail price, aligning with global best practices.

The establishment of the ad-hoc committee on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax signifies Nigeria's dedication to safeguarding public health and reducing the prevalence of NCDs. Through the implementation of the SSB tax and the subsequent reduction in sugary drink consumption, Nigeria is taking significant steps toward improving the well-being of its citizens.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-08-24 News

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