Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello: Open letter to Abubakar Malami on killer trans fatty acids

My letter centres on the lives of over 200 million Nigerians sitting uneasily in a file in front of your table as I write.

• August 19, 2022
Nigeria's Attorney General, Abubakar Malami
Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami [Photo Credit: The Guardian Nigeria]

Dear Attorney General of the Federation,

I intend to go straight to the reason behind my letter, which centres on the lives of over 200 million Nigerians sitting uneasily in a file in front of your table as I write.

I want to draw your attention to the fact that the number one killer disease in the world today is not COVID-19 but cardiovascular-induced illnesses like cardiac arrest, stroke, heart failure, etc, caused by the consumption of unhealthy foods and oils, particularly trans fatty acids (TFAs).

In Nigeria, consumption of TFAs is the number one cause of heart failure and cardiac arrest. Statistics according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that more than 36 million people die annually from non-communicable diseases (NCDs), accounting for 63% of all global deaths. Among these, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death, accounting for 17.5 million deaths annually. In this category, high blood pressure leads all risk factors.

Sir, it may interest you to know that for the past two years, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa, (CAPPA), a Non-Governmental Organisation, in conjunction with partners, has been carrying out a massive campaign for a #TransFatFree Nigeria, while working closely with the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Their efforts have resulted in an update of two existing regulations, namely: the fats and oils, and pre-packaged ice and water labelling regulations. Although much progress has been made in putting together the regulations and getting NAFDAC Council to approve them, delay in gazetting them has become costly as it allows manufacturers of foods high in trans fats, interested only in profits, to continue the business of marketing lethal foods.  Consumers, yourself included, are at the receiving end, as they consume oils that lead to their ill health and death in some cases.

Sir, the regulations which were drafted have been passed to your table, awaiting approval. In order to safeguard Nigerian lives from untimely death, there is an urgent need to gazette the pre-packaged ice and water labelling regulation. 

This letter was penned to you from a place of genuine concern as a social worker and concerned Nigerian citizen.

Thank you!

Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello, an Abuja-based media and communications officer at Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), could be reached at: abello@cappaafrica.org.

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