The Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA), has launched a Trans-Fatty Acid (TFA) elimination campaign project with a call on Ghanaians to support the prevention of non-communicable diseases, especially cardiovascular illnesses.
The launch, on the theme: “Making Ghana TFA Free to Improve Heart Health” was held with high-level representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), academia, departments and agencies.
The INSLA, a non-profit civil society organisation would undertake the campaign together with its partners, the Healthy Diets Alliance Ghana, a civil society organization.
Dr Elsie Kodjoe, a Technical Officer (Non-Communicable Diseases) of the WHO Country Office, Ghana in a speech said non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular diseases; cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease were collectively responsible for almost 70 per cent of all deaths worldwide.
“Almost three quarters of all NCD deaths occur in low- and middle-come countries and that it is the leading cause of premature deaths worldwide,” she stated.
Dr Kodjoe said the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the fore the importance of addressing the burden of non-communicable diseases and that it was clear that preventing and managing NCD risk factors was key as people living with diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, stroke and cancer were particularly vulnerable to becoming severely ill.
She said industrially produced trans-fats had no known health benefits and led to clogging of the arteries which increased the risk of heart disease, adding that it was estimated that 50,000 people died each year from eating TFA while six billion people lived in countries that did not protect their citizens from trans-fat.
Trans fats are found in snacks, baked or fried food or oils used in cooking at home. In restaurants or by street vendors.
“WHO is spearheading a Global Initiative to eliminate trans-fats by 2030. This initiative, the WHO REPLACE (Review, Promote, Legislate, Assess, Create, Enforce) Action package, is a six step guide to eliminate trans-fats from the food supply chain in countries,” she stated.
The Technical Officer commended the INSLA for the timely launch of the project.
Mr Roderick Daddey-Adjei, the Deputy Chief Executive (Food Division) of the FDA said the Agency’s mandate was drawn from the Public Health Act 2012, which was to protect the health and safety of the public by ensuring the safety, quality, and the efficacy of food, drugs and other FDA regulated products through the enforcement of relevant standards.
“As part of this mandate, the FDA also regulate food through the monitoring of food systems and products. FDA efforts including; the development and implementation of guidelines, policies, regulations relating to food and drugs have led to protecting consumers from unhealthy and unsafe food and drugs in our markets over the years,” he stated.
He said; “Today’s meeting, which is expected to contribute to the development of a policy package for healthier diet in Ghana is in line with the FDA mandate. Therefore, FDA will not just be supportive of this initiative, but it will play a lead role in its development and implementation.
“We believe that the policy and efforts towards good nutrition and healthy diet need to be tackled at multiple levels by making provisions for multiple actors across diverse sectors given the complexity of the food systems.
“It is the expectation of the FDA that a clear policy direction with all the set national sodium, sugar, Trans and saturated fats, will be established for their implementation by the FDA to control unhealthy foods and beverages as a nation.”
Mr Mark Kojo Atuahene, Acting Head, Public Health and Health Promotion Unit, Ministry of Health who launched the project said non-communicable diseases (NCDs) had become the leading cause of morbidity and mortality and that almost 100 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalization and deaths had the underlying factors of NCDs.
“As we leave here, I would like to entreat all to come on board as we strive to eliminate trans-fatty acids from our diet. It is now obvious that ensuring good health is the responsibility of all. It is no more only the health sector.
“Let us drum home that if you are buying any packaged food product make sure you read the label very well. Make sure you limit reuse of cooking oil, intake of salt, sugar while checking our eating practices.”
He expressed gratitude to INSLA for taking up the initiative to campaign for the elimination of trans-fatty acids in the Ghanaian food production and supply systems.
Mr Benjamin Anabila, the Director of INSLA in a welcoming address said: “As this project is launched today, we seek to create awareness on the negative impact of TFAs and advocates for the elimination of TFA with the replacement of a healthier oils and fats through the implementation of Ghana’s Public Health Act and WHO REPLACE Trans Fat Technical package in collaboration with all the relevant stakeholders.”
The goal of INSLA is to stimulate discussions and actions to make humanity and its environment productive, safer and healthier.