The Honourable Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora has reaffirmed government commitment to eliminate the consumption of Trans-Fatty Acids in Nigeria.
Dr. Mamora made this known while receiving the Trans-Fatty Acids (TFAs) Champion Award, conferred on him by the Trans-Fat Free Nigeria Coalition led by the Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) in Abuja.
The Minister said that, Trans fat has been linked to an increase in the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, cancers and death. According to the new estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), over 250,000 people die yearly resulting from complications associated with the consumption of foods high in Trans fat. This the Minister said, has led to the call for the global elimination of industrially-produced trans-fat by 2023.
Speaking further, Mamora said that the award is remarkable and he is happy on account of the good fortune, which permits him to be an instrument in ensuring that the fat and oils regulations and labelling of pre-packaged food receive the required attention. “For us at the Ministry of Health, being the regulatory body on issues regarding the health of Nigerians. We have a duty to save guard lives, the life of every Nigerian is precious and people should not die needlessly particularly from what they eat, either out of ignorance or because of failure of the government to do that which is right.”
He reassured that the regulations of TFAs consumption will not be stagnant at the Ministry, but everything possible to fast track it, will be done for onward transmission to the Federal Ministry of Justice for gazetting.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Mahmuda Mamman, said that the Ministry appreciates the regular presentation of issues of TFAs, for national discuss and striving to find solution to its reduction and elimination in the Nigeria food menu. He informed that TFAs are known globally as toxic chemicals associated with human health risk, gotten when food is consumed in the presence of industrially produced Trans fat, commonly found in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils which may be found in baked, fried and packaged foods. The major toxic chemicals in TFAs are transmitted to related organs like heart and major organs to cause cardiovascular diseases and other complications.
According to him, the burden of TFAs health risk and cost of elimination and control measures are significant and the most effective way to identify and tackle TFAs reduction and elimination is through food supply chain strategic policy, programmes and regulations and these when effectively and efficiently engaged has proven to mitigate its potential health crisis, loss of trade and economy.
“There is need for deliberate action on this and the Ministry having the overall mandate on food safety, and working towards minimising incidences of risk associated with food, is ever ready to coordinate efforts in reduction and elimination of TFAs in food products, and monitor its health impact in line with WHO “REPLACE” strategic plan of action”, Mamman stated.
Earlier the Technical Adviser, Trans-Fat Free Coalition Campaign, Dr. Jeromi Mafeni who gave a brief update of the organization, said that the Coalition is working with NAFDAC which is already empowered by National Legislation to regulate and control the consumption of drugs and foods in the country. “Since the Agency already had existing regulations for fat and oils as well as regulations for food labelling, NHED thought the best way of addressing the issue of TFAs in Nigeria is to work with them to update these regulations and address the unique challenges created by it”.
Mafeni disclosed that the Trans Fatty Free Nigeria Coalition has a growing member in excess of 20, including 6 Federal Government Ministries and Agencies, Donors and Implementing Partners such as WHO, Resolve to Save Lives (RSTL), Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) and over 10 Civil Society Organizations, with National and International networks that include Ave Health Sense, Nigeria Heart Foundation, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA).
He expressed optimism that the Ministry of Health will expedite the process for the fats and oils regulations and labelling of food packages to be gazetted so that the health of Nigerian citizens can be protected.
The Award was presented to the Honourable Minister by the NHED Country Director, Dr. Emmanuel Sokpo.
By: Blessing Efem
Nwokike Brendan (Head Medias & Public Relations Unit)