Headline Health News

West Africa Health Organization calls for higher taxation on unhealthy food

Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire declaring the forum open

Members of the West Africa Health Organization, (WAHO) have called for high policy taxation on unhealthy and over processed food and beverages to discourage its purchase and consumption.

This is to address the high rate of malnutrition and diet related diseases in the West African Region.

The submission was made at the 17th ECOWAS Nutrition Forum organised by the West Africa Health Organization and the Ministry of Health in Abuja on Thursday.

The forum brought together major nutrition stakeholders, government, parliamentarians, researchers, financial experts and civil society to review nutrition policies and practices, access progress in reducing malnutrition and diet related diseases in the ECOWAS region.

In a presentation, the Regional Adviser for Nutrition and Food Safety, Universal Health Coverage for the World Health Organization, (WHO) Regional office for Africa, Dr. Laetitia Nikeima, said the current food systems in West African Region was failing, hence the need for stakeholders to take proactive measures to tackle the menace.

Dr. Nikeima who stressed that advertisement of unhealthy foods promote consumption level and diet related diseases called on member countries to develop high taxation policies on such foods to discourage consumption.

The ECOWAS Nutrition Forum Facilitator, Mrs. Compaore Ella said reviews from the last ECOWAS Nutrition Forum, showed that Ghana, Guinea and Togo did not comply to the systematic reviews for improving operational research for adolescents’ nutrition.

The ECOWAS Nutrition Forum Facilitator therefore gave five recommendations for addressing malnutrition and diet related diseases including provision of technical support, increased advocacy for more domestic budget on Nutrition, increased advocacy towards partners for more financial support, development of guidelines for sustainable nutrition and food fortifications.

Nigeria highest investor in Nutrition

Earlier, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo while declaring the forum open said Nigeria has given the highest political will and interventions through the National Council on Nutrition with support from partners.

He was represented by the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire.

The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar said 12 million Nigerian children are stunted, pointing out that the ministry has developed nutrition strategies using crop-based approach from 2016-2025 to ensure food security.

It is estimated that 768 million people suffer from hunger out of which 278 million live in west Africa, this the President of the ECOWAS commission, Dr. Omar Tourey said is caused by insecurity, political instability and high cost of commodities.

The theme for the 17th ECOWAS Nutrition Forum is “Leveraging sustainable financing for multisectoral Approaches: Accelerating Universal Access to Nutritious, Safe Affordable and sustainable Diet.

Reporting by Nancy Anikaezie; Editing by Chinasa Ossai and Annabel Nwachukwu.