The Advocating for Health (A4H) Coalition has urged the Government to facilitate passage of the Excise Duty Amendment Bill into law to protect, promote and guarantee the health of Ghanaians.
The Bill seeks to impose taxes on health-harming products such as tobacco, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) imported into the country.
Addressing the media at a news conference at the University of Ghana, Legon, on Thursday, Professor Amos Laar, the Project Leader, A4H Coalition, said the consumption of sugars and other health-harming products gave rise to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and obesity, which increased t government’s expenditure for treatment.
For instance, the total direct healthcare cost burden for overweight and obesity was $121 million, as against $64 million for average weight.
That implied that the Government was paying for those preventable and expensive health conditions through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) whilst money and lives could have been saved by implementing preventable policies on sugar-sweetened beverages and imposing levies on health-harming commodities, he noted.
Prof Laar, a professor of Public Health Nutrition at the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, said Ghana was experiencing a surge in diet related non-communicable diseases like diabetes type 2 and hypertension, therefore, taxation was a prudent means to addressing the situation.
Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that countries that imposed taxes on health-harming commodities and sugar-sweetened beverages witnessed decline in consumption of such products and improvement in the health conditions and wellbeing of their citizens.
Eighty-five countries worldwide have so far imposed taxes and levies on sugar-sweetened beverages and health-harming products and commodities including Mexico, South Africa, Nigeria and Mauritius.
Prof. Laar said in a position statement submitted to the government, the Coalition suggested that revenues that would accrue from the taxation should be earmarked to fund research on health and funding the NHIS as well as other social protection programmes like the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty and the School Feeding Programme.
He gave the assurance that the Coalition and other civil society organisations would continue to support the policy and monitor its full implementation to ensure the protection and health of the citizens.
The Coalition comprised academics from five public universities in Ghana led by the School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Ghana Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Alliance, Ghana Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Ghana Public Health Association.