The Nigerian Government has assured that efforts are ongoing to ensure that an effective regulation is approved to reduce Trans-Fat (TFA) consumption in the country. Speaking during the opening ceremony of a two-day meeting of the #TransfatFreeNigeria Coalition, Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who was represented by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) National Coordinator for Food Safety and Quality Programme, John Atandaa, disclosed that the ministry would soon come up with a national policy, strategic plan of action and legal framework on reduction/elimination of TFA in Nigeria.
He told the #TransfatFreeNigeria Coalition, made up of organizations working to achieve the World Health Organization’s REPLACE action plan in Nigeria, that the ministry is looking forward to reducing and eliminating TFA in the country. The minister noted that efforts towards actualizing the plan include policy, legislation, regulation standards, awareness, training, monitoring and other measures.
The meeting convened by Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) was attended by stakeholders, including members of civil society organizations and representatives of government ministries, departments, and agencies working on nutrition and health.
In his welcome remarks, Executive Director of NHED Emmanuel Sokpo declared that Nigeria was on course to have a TFA regulation in line with global best practices. Sokpo hinted that the coalition had achieved considerable progress since its first meeting in 2018.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed, who was represented by Head of Food and Nutrition Chito Nelson, stressed the need for continuous collaboration to improve awareness on trans-fat. She also welcomed the opportunity to work with NHED, CAPPA and other coalition members to create awareness and sensitize the public on the dangers of TFA.
Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of CAPPA, Oluwafemi Akinbode, said there was a need to galvanize political support to approve regulations geared towards eliminating TFA in Nigeria. “Our role is to use the media to mobilize public support for NAFDAC, the Federal Ministry of Health and other agencies with critical roles in achieving a trans-fat free Nigeria. This public support is important to our work in mobilizing the political class and decision-makers to understand the dangers of TFA and move very fast on providing a workable legal framework that prioritises the health of Nigerians,” Akinbode said.
Admitting that the consumer is the most crucial consideration in the campaign, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) representative said that the organization was keen on sensitizing members of the topic about the dangers posed by trans-fat. FCCPC’s Assistant Chief Laboratory Technologist Kemi Oladipo, who represented the commission’s executive vice chairman, said, “We are here today because of the consumers, and we are all consumers. We must protect the interests of the consumers by working together to eliminate trans-fat in Nigeria’s food supply chain.”