Trans-fat War Erupts In Nigeria As Group Tackles Corporate Abuses On Public Health

114 views | Akanimo Sampson | October 27, 2020

An advocacy and campaign non-governmental organisation, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), says it is seriously concerned about the deleterious effects, and impact of corporate practices and abuses on public health of citizens and public health care delivery.

CAPPA is working with its Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) partners at the country level to build contacts in government, and among the Nigerian broader civil society movement to escalate national discourse on trans-fats regulation.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) puts the yearly deaths from cardiovascular disease linked to trans-fats consumption at around 500,000 persons annually.

The death rates, according to CAPPA, are set to spike, especially in low- and middle-income countries as they adopt lifestyle and consumption patterns that were hitherto synonymous with high-income countries.

The group’s Programmes Director, Philip Jakpor, says ‘’our work on public health advocacy is focused on ensuring and enabling effective policies to promote healthy lifestyles and resist attempts by corporations, through their products or practices, to jeopardise public health.

‘’We also work to promote the delivery of adequate, qualitative, efficient, effective, affordable and accessible public health services and in preventing and combating public health emergencies. We are particularly concerned about the deleterious effects and impact of corporate practices and abuses on public health of citizens and public health care delivery.’’

Adding, he said, ‘’we focus on countering the proliferation of the production and distribution of harmful consumer products that are known to undermine public health such as tobacco and trans-fat in oil, among others. We also work with citizens to ensure that governments take appropriate, inclusive and equitable steps to combat the threat of occurrence and spread of epidemics and pandemics that pose a significant threat to human lives and public health.’’

Like their counterparts in most low- and middle-income countries, Nigerians now consume more fast foods and foods containing high amounts of trans-fat. As a result, more and more citizens are coming down with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and colon cancer, among a host of others.

CAPPA, according to Jakpor, is working in collaboration with other GHAI partners to develop counter messages and arguments to the industry propaganda.

It is equally mobilising civil society partners to pressure the National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to conclude work on two critical legislations that incorporate sections on trans-fats.

These are Fats & Oils Regulation, 2019 and the Pre-packaged Food, Water and Ice Labelling Regulation, 2019.

In partnership with the Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) and other civil society actors in Nigeria, CAPPA is leading advocacy to get the Governing Council of NAFDAC to approve these regulations.

Last July the group launched audiovisual public service announcements targeted at educating Nigerians about the health risks of trans-fat and safe alternatives that exist. The campaign continues to gain traction as the oils and fats industry becomes ingenious.

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