By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
The Federal Ministry of Health has inaugurated inter-agencies national sub ad-hoc committee on sugar sweetened beverages( SSBs) tax.
The inauguration took place yesterday in Abuja, is aimed at ensuring the sustainability and effective implementation of the SSB Tax in Nigeria.
The inaugural meeting of the ad-hoc committee was organized by the Non-Communicable Disease Division of the Federal Ministry of Health had representatives of different Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government with important roles to play in the implementation of the SSB tax towards for the tackling of Nigeria’s NCDs burden.
Speaking at the opening address delivered by Mrs. Etta Nneka, the Director/Head, Public Health Department, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike said the ad-hoc committee ‘will be saddled with the responsibility of addressing excess consumption of SSB through actualizing comprehensive coordinated and sustainable implementation strategies of SSB tax regime’.
He said the terms of reference of the committee will include but are not limited to ‘working to expand the scope of the SSB tax to include a wide range of sugary drinks, determine most effective option for legislative framework, and to examine the current perceptions of the opportunities and barriers for SSB health taxes.’
The SSB Tax ad-hoc committee will also advise the Risk Factor Sub-committee of the National Committee on Non-Communicable Diseases.
While appreciating stakeholders, the DPH thanked CAPPA, the Global Health Advocacy Incubator, and other partners working in Nigeria to ensure that Nigeria’s health index is improved.
Earlier, Dr. Deborah Odoh, National Coordinator for the Non-Communicable Diseases Division of the Ministry noted in her welcome address that ‘frequent consumption of SSB is associated with increased incidence of dental cavities, tooth decay and obesity. Obesity is in turn a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus, heart disease, stroke, and hypertension, SSB consumption has also been linked to some forms of cancer.’
Partners at the meeting praised the Federal Ministry of Health for moving forward in the fight against NCDs using the instrumentality of the tax as they fight back the blackmail and threat of SSB industry players.
Speaking at the inauguration, the Executive Director, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) commended the Federal Government for setting up the committee, saying it is one bold step towards protecting public health through evidence-based policies.
He urged the committee to immediately begin work on providing the much-needed framework for effective implementation of SSB tax in Nigeria and for the increase of the tax to the global best practice of 20% of the final retail price.