In a resolute stand against the mounting public health alarms linked to excessive sugar intake, the Federal Ministry of Health has unveiled a determined commitment to escalate the tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) from the current rate of 10% to an assertive 20%.
This transformative stride aims not only to champion the cause of healthier drink preferences but to significantly curb the consumption of processed sugars and carbonated drinks, heralding a healthier future for the nation’s populace and generations yet to come.
In the wake of escalating global health concerns tied to elevated sugar consumption, including the ominous shadows of childhood obesity, diabetes, and dental afflictions, various nations, among them Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, and Portugal, have rallied to endorse the recommended global SSB tax of 20% advocated by the World Health Organization (WHO)
By intensifying the financial toll on sugar-laden products, the Ministry endeavors to dissuade consumers from embracing them and, in turn, foster a preference for healthier and more nutritious beverage alternatives
Dr. Chukwuma Anyaike, the Director/Head of the Public Health Department within the Federal Ministry of Health, shared this pivotal development during the Pro-Health Tax Policy Campaign on SSB, an event that resonated within the halls of both the Federal Ministries of Finance and Health in Abuja.
“In the wake of successful implementation of SSB taxation in several countries including Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, and Portugal, we are poised to replicate this victory within Nigeria.
Not only will the adoption and continuation of this tax drive diminish excessive SSB consumption, but it will also alleviate the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs),” Dr. Anyaike affirmed.
Asserting unwavering determination, Dr. Anyaike remarked, “Our commitment echoes the global benchmark, aspiring to attain at least a 20% levy on all SSBs’ final retail price, as the current 10 naira per liter falls short of this aspiration.”
This strategic campaign complements other ongoing governmental initiatives aimed at elevating the health landscape for Nigerians and resonates with the worldwide endeavor to significantly mitigate the prevalence of NCDs.
Edozie Chukwuma, representing the National Action and Sugar Reduction Coalition (NASR), elucidated the campaign’s overarching goal: to enlighten the general public, policymakers, and concerned authorities about the lurking dangers entwined with SSB consumption.
Chukwuma echoed the necessity for the current administration to heighten the SSB tax, as part of a concerted endeavor to quell the allure of sugary products.
Chukwuma underscored, “Our primary objective is to petition the government to enact legislation that not only restricts but ultimately diminishes the consumption of sugary beverages.
The mechanism is simple—it enhances the cost of sugary drinks, generating revenues that could be channeled towards healthcare initiatives, especially in alleviating the burden of non-communicable diseases.”
Dr. Peter Agada, a spokesperson for those grappling with diabetes, lent a poignant voice to the campaign, urging fellow Nigerians to shun carbonated beverages. Dr. Agada highlighted the paradox wherein the initial affordability of such drinks pales in comparison to the exorbitant costs of treating diabetes.
In a fervent plea to the Federal Government, Dr. Agada called for swift intervention in subsidizing the expenses related to diabetes management, including medications and monitoring equipment, with the goal of preventing avoidable fatalities.
Dr. Agada’s poignant appeal resonated: “If the government can make healthcare insurance easily accessible to individuals outside of the government sphere, it would be a game-changer.
Further education, heightened awareness, and disseminated information on this front would also wield positive outcomes.
Facilitating more approvals for private healthcare practitioners within the insurance system could significantly contribute.
Moreover, if government agencies could make diabetic medications more affordable, it would be a significant stride.”
Dr. Agada underscored the gravity of the diabetes epidemic, stating, “One in every 17 Nigerians either lives with diabetes or stands on the cusp of its grasp.
This is a full-blown pandemic, and diabetes stands as an implacable destroyer of lives across the globe. It’s an issue that commands unwavering attention and utmost seriousness.
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