Institute of Leadership and Development strengthens capacity of CSOs

Accra, Nov. 17, GNA – The Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA) has organised a day’s capacity building and consultative workshop for civil society organisations (CSOs) and the media to help in the campaign to eliminate trans-fatty acids (TFA) in the Ghanaian food production system.

The INSLA, a non-profit CSO, has since May this year, started a project dubbed: “Making Ghana TFA Free to improve Heart Health” to achieve the objectives of the World Health Organisation’s REPLACE package on TFA.

Mr Issah Ali, the Project Manager of INSLA in a presentation, explained that the REPLACE stands for Review, Promote, Legislate, Assess, Create and Enforce, which serves as roadmap for countries to implement actions to reduce and eliminate industrially-produced TFA.

He said this would meet the Sustainable Development Goal (2) which states: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” and that its aim was to ensure that everyone everywhere had enough good-quality food to lead a healthy life.

Madam Hikimatu Tunteiya Mohammed, a Principal Nutrition Officer of the Nutrition Department of the Ghana Health Service, speaking on “Negative Health Impact of Trans-Fatty Acids)” said, trans-fat increases the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and decreases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in humans.

She said: “The fat deposit in the arteries can tear or rupture forming blood clots that can block blood flow to the heart and the brain causing coronary heart disease or atherosclerosis (heart attack) and stroke respectively.”

Madam Mohammed said TFA consumption was also known to influence multiple risk (including increased systemic inflammation, increased thrombogenesis and all of this in combination or individually could contribute to increased cardiovascular diseases and other health risk.

She said the alternative approach to TFA was to eliminate industrially-produced trans-fat through regulatory actions.

She advised that the intake of trans fat should be kept as low as possible and to limit intake of packaged snacks, fast foods and other foods containing hydrogenated oils and that, in general, fat intake should not exceed 10 per cent of our total energy needs.

Dr Wallace Odiko-Ollennu, the Deputy Programme Manager of the Non-Communicable Disease Control Programme of the Ghana Health Service, spoke on “Eliminating TFA in Ghana - Role of NCDCP.”

He said 77 per cent of all non-communicable diseases (NCDs) death occur in low- and middle-income countries including Ghana and that cardiovascular diseases account for most of the deaths, or 17.9 million people annually.

Dr Odiko-Ollennu said to control and prevent NCDs there was the need to focus on reducing the risk factors which include the TFA and that all sectors should be engaged such as; health, finance, transport, education, agriculture, among others.

Mr Benjamin Anabila, the Director of INSLA welcoming participants said the goal of the project was to create awareness on the negative impact of TFA and advocates for its elimination with the replacement of healthier oils and fats through the implementation of Ghana’s Public Health Act and the WHO REPLACE Trans Fat Technical package.

“Colleagues CSOs and the media present here, after having successfully engaged with the policy makers, it is very important that we engage other CSOs that are working on health and the media as next key stakeholders in the achievement of these objectives especially with awareness creation and education.

“It is therefore not by chance that you are here but because INSLA recognises your importance in its journey to success,” Mr Anabila said.

He expressed gratitude to Vital Strategies, RESOLVE TO SAVE LIFE/LINKS, the Ministry of Health, the Food and Drugs Authority, Ghana Health Service, the National Insurance Authority and the World Health Organisation for their support.