Mr. Labram Musah, the National Coordinator for the Ghana Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (GhNCDA), has said the passage of the Excise Duty and Tax Stamp (Amendment) Bills will contribute to fostering healthy living in the country.
Hence, the main objective for the passage of the bills should be shifted from mainly revenue generation to Health Promotional Tax to help accelerate the passage of the bills in parliament.
Mr. Mush was speaking at a two-day Roundtable Discussion on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), Diabetes and Obesity event organized by the Ministry of Health (MoH) at Aburi in the Akuapim South Municipality.
The event was funded mostly by the World Heart Federation (WHF) and the Stroke Association Support Network (SASNET).
The aim was to assemble various stakeholders to agree on an action plan to be implemented to improve the health outcomes of people living with CVD, Diabetes and Obesity.
Mr. Musah, said, a study conducted by the GhNCDA showed, “Obesity is gaining ground in developing countries. 4.5 out of 11 Ghanaian children are obese. Currently, 7 out of 10 Ghanaian adults are obese”.
The influx of cheap, but unhealthy foods and western lifestyles through aggressive food marketing, he noted had led to high consumption of junk foods, sometimes causing food addictions, especially, among children.
Mr. Musah said 30 percent of all school-age children did not eat fruit daily as 44 percent drunk soda every day at the detriment of their health unknowingly.
“We all do it. We buy these drinks for our children to school every day and ignore the consequences of it. If the bill is passed in parliament prices will rise. When prices increase, the demand for it will reduce”, he said.
Mr. Musah, indicated that Ghana would not be the only country to have passed a bill to check the consumption of unhealthy foods as over 80 countries had policies and laws on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSB).
He, therefore, appealed to the MoH to support the passage of the Excise Duty and Tax Stamp (Amendment) Bills in parliament to contribute to minimizing the number of recorded cases of the three rising health conditions.
In addition, Mrs. Elizabeth E. Denyoh, the Chairperson-Elect of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Africa Region, appealed to the government to include fruits in the school feeding programme as most children did not eat fruits.
“This looks big, but if we take Akim Oda, where the majority of oranges come from in Ghana, we could include one orange into the school feeding programme per child. If we look at Sunyani, where we have pawpaw, we can include one small pawpaw in school feeding”, she said.
Again, Mrs. Denyoh, said apart from promoting healthy food consumption, the Ghana Education Service must encourage play back into schools to ensure a rise in the activeness of children.