By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
In an effort to ensure trans-fat is eliminated in our food chain. The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) and Trans-Fat Free Nigeria has organized a training workshop for journalists on how to set agenda and communicate good reportage on trans-fat to public .
The two-days workshop tagged: “Journalists, Digital Media Training on Trans-Fat Reporting,” drawn journalists from various broadcast stations, prints, digital and online, was held recently in Abuja.
Speaking in his opening remarks, Executive Director, CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi,said the media has a critical role to play in agenda-setting role to influence policies and regulations that will contribute to the elimination of Trans-Fat Acids (TFA) in the country.
Olufemi called on the media to constantly engage citizens on the dangers associated with the consumption of food products that contain trans fat to wean them off killer food choices for healthier alternatives.
In his keynote address,Dr Salisu Abubakar of Nutrition and Dietetics Unit, Biochemistry Department and Africa Centre of Excellence for Population Health and Policy, Bayero University Kano (BUK), said,defined trans-fat as unsaturated fatty acids that come from either natural or industrial sources.
“Naturally-occurring trans-fat come from ruminants (cows and sheep)”
Abubakar explained that,industrially produced trans-fat are formed in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, converting the liquid into solid, resulting in “partially hydrogenated oil.
He said “Approximately 540,000 deaths can be attributed to the intake of industrially-produced trans-fatty acids annually.
“High trans-fat intake increases the risk of death from any cause by 34 percent, coronary heart disease deaths by 28 per cent, and coronary heart disease by 21 percent”.
According to him, there is an urgent need for action,setting agenda to influence policies and regulations that will contribute to the elimination of trans-fat in Nigeria.
He emphasized that the media’s has a key role to play in actualizing trans-fat free Nigeria .
Similarly,Digital Communication Expert of Global Wave Digital,Laura Rodriguez,charged media practitioners to use online and mobile tools to engage relevant policy and decision makers to achieve trans-fat free in the country.
Rodriguez,noted that “participating journalists should plan a branded day of action to call on policymakers for action, complete with media outreach, social media content, influencer engagement, live/offline events, and more.
“They should also follow digital channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and actively monitor the hashtag #TransfatfreeNigeria.
“This will help to keep track of campaign updates and identify individuals for interviews, as well as creating Twitter lists for Trans Fat-Free Nigeria campaign.
“It will allow you to keep campaign spokespeople, NAFDAC, other key decision-makers and others,’’she stated.
The Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), Hema Kahanchandani of called for immediate gazetting and full enforcement of TFA regulation in Nigeria.
“In addition, the role of media in setting agenda for the actualization of Trans-Fat Free Nigeria cannot be overemphasized.”
Kahanchandani recalled that in 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO), called for the global elimination of industrially-produced TFA by 2023 through what it called the “Replace Action Framework”.
Meanwhile,Trans Fatty Acids Technical Advisor, Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED),Dr.Jerome Mafeni, said, it is possible for trans-fat to be eliminated from the world.
“By replacing them with more healthier food that save lives”.