Accra, Sept. 30, GNA - Stakeholders in health have called on Government to resource the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to establish a laboratory to test industrially-produced Trans-Fatty Acids (TFAs) in Ghana’s food supply system.
They said this would enable the Authority to have a data on the health effects of TFAs and help in formulating policies and regulations to control the production of TFAs.
The stakeholders made the call at day’s consultative forum on the elimination of TFAs organised by the Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA), a civil society organisation.
It was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), National Health Insurance Scheme and other civil society organization while officers of WHO headquarters joined in the discussions through zoom.
Alhaji Mahama Asei Seini, the Deputy Minister of Health in an address said the world was experiencing high mortality and morbidity from the increasing incidences of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and that aging, poor dietary habits, and physical inactivity were identified as major risk factors for NCDs.
He said industrially produced TFAs in diet had been implicated as a risk factor of cardiovascular diseases and that there was a serious global advocacy to eliminate Trans fats from food supply.
Alhaji Asei Seini said the World Health Organisation had provided countries with six strategic action package to guide them with the acronym REPLACE to ensure the prompt, complete, and sustained elimination of industrially-produced trans fats from food supply.
The REPLACE stands for; Review dietary sources of industrially-produced trans fats and the landscape for required policy change; Promote the replacement of industrially-produced trans fats with healthier fats and oils; and Legislate or enact regulatory actions to eliminate industrially-produced trans fats.
The rest are; Assess and monitor trans fats content in the food supply and changes in trans-fats consumption in the population; Create Awareness of the negative health impact of trans fats among policy makers, producers, suppliers, and the public; and Enforce compliance of policies and regulations.
The Minister urged the participants to adapt a multi-sectoral approach to help find means to eliminating the TFAs in the country’s food supply systems to save the lives of the citizenry.
Ms Gifty Aidoo, Head, Food Registration and Nutrition Unit of the FDA in a presentation disclosed at the forum that currently the Authority did not have the capacity to carry out test on TFAs to help in the formulation of regulations.
Mr Musah Ali, the Project Manager of the INSLA in an interview with the Ghana News Agency said the presentation made by the NHIS representative showed that the health effects of TFAs was increasing the health budget.
He said: “looking at the health cost relating to heart diseases and other sicknesses there is the need for Ghana to take quick action to reduce the trans fats disease burden of the country.”
Mr Ali said according to the WHO, eliminating trans fats acids would be a big win to the global population and not only for Ghana and that currently 40 developed countries took action to protect their citizens.
“It is sad that out of the 40 countries listed by the WHO no middle-income country is in the list and Africa the country doing well is South Africa, then Nigeria is also trying to do something, but because of COVID-19 it has stuck, but Ghana zero.
“So, this is an opportunity for us to engage stakeholders, raise awareness and come out with a common strategy and plan and see how we can move to protect the Ghanaian population.
He said the forum was encouraging and an eye opener, as the Deputy Minister was present to witness some of the presentations, especially on mandatory nutrition labeling, something that must be done for citizens to know what they buy.
“We consume everything, but we don’t know the content. So going forward we need educational campaign materials and technical brief which some health agencies are working on because without scientific base domestically you cannot take actions,” he stated.