By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
A coalition of non-governmental organisations under the National Action on Sugar Reduction(NASR), said it is advocating for government to tax sugary drinks in Nigeria and subsidize high cost of diabetes treatment.
The group made the disclosure during its inaugural meeting held in Abuja recently, saying that, there is a need for policy measures to tackle the health risks of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages in the country .
This was contained in statement signed by the Coalition representative, Omei Bongos-Ikwue said “if Nigeria government will taxed sugary drinks this will go a long way in saving public health and create economic value.
“Sugar-sweetened beverages (soft drinks) contribute significantly to the rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Nigeria, including type II diabetes, stroke and heart disease. A single soft drink bottle contains staggering amounts of sugar -up to 12 cubes.
“Soft drinks are also a major contributing factor to tooth decay and obesity, a risk factor for a host of chronic diseases. A Euromonitor report lists Nigeria as the 4th highest consumer of soft drinks in the world,”Bongos-Ikwue stated.
The statement mentioned that ,”there is a growing evidence to suggest that suitable health policies, such as tax, can discourage the consumption of sugary drinks and potentially prevent their poor health effects. The coalition recognizes that a tax would not be a complete solution itself but rather one component of a comprehensive approach to preventing NCDs.”.
The statement stated that the coalition’s recommended that that Federal Ministry of Health should initiate a public awareness and education
campaign on the health risks associated with excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and the cost of diabetes care and the management of other NCDs.
Also,the Coalition specifically called on the Minister of Finance to introduce an excise duty of 20% on sugar-sweetened beverages such as carbonated sugary drinks and energy drinks.
The NGOs ‘believes that, the National Assembly should introduce a tax on sugary drinks to provide a more lasting solution.
The coalition was drawn from Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Nigeria Cancer Society ,Breast Without Spot,Lafiya Wealth Initiative.
Others are :TalkHealth9ja,Nigeria Health Watch,Project PINK BLUE, Sustainable Development Initiative and African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD).