The Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA), a non-profit civil society organisation, in collaboration with the Health Promotion Department of the Ghana Health Service, has launched advocacy materials on industrial Trans-Fatty Acids (iTFA) to help eliminate them in the food supply systems.
This is in line with the implementation of the World Health Organisation’s REPLACE Trans-Fat Technical Package.
The REPLACE, which stands for Review, Promote, Legislate, Assess, Create and Enforce, is a global initiative by the WHO to guide countries to eliminate trans-fats by 2030 to save lives and reduce the burden on health facilities.
Trans-fats, or trans-fatty acids, are a form of unsaturated fat that come in both natural and artificial forms. The natural form occurs in the meat and dairy from ruminant animalsm, while arificial trans-fats, otherwise known as industrial trans fats, occur in vegetable oil, which are chemically altered to give them much longer shelf life.
The inscriptions on the campaign materials read: “My Health, My Priority,” “I Support Regulations on Trans Fats in our foods,” “Which fat/oil is in my food?” and “High Trans Fats in foods cause diseases in all persons of all ages: Let’s protect our children.”
Others are: “Let’s Save Lives! Trans Fat can be reduced in our foods,” and “High Trans Fats can cause heart attack: Let’s avoid it.”
Mr Mahama Asei Seini, a Deputy Minister of Health, who launched the materials, urged the public to help in the campaign by using the flyers to create awareness on the dangers of trans-fats to their health.
“I believe and hope that through the awareness creation and the advocacy campaigns the problems of non-communicable diseases such as heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, blood pressures and cancers will be reduced if not eliminated,” he said.
The WHO, in a solidarity message, said the industrially produced trans-fats were found in snacks, baked or fried foods or oils, which clogged the arteries, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease.
“It is estimated that 50,000 people die each year from eating industrialised produced trans-fats, and more than six billion people live in countries that do not protect their citizens from trans-fats. However, trans-fat can be replaced with healthier fats and oils at a minimal cost, without changing the taste and availability of food,” it said.
The Organisation said the awareness creation and advocacy could help eliminate those fats by 2030 and the focus must be on identifying and defining the various target audiences.
“We can all play our respective roles to promote change through constructive engagement with relevant private sector actors, effective multi-sectoral collaboration and cooperation, which is essential for success,” it said, and commended the INSLA for being instrumental in the advocacy.
Mr Roderick Kwabena Daddey-Adjei, the Acting Head, Food Division, Food and Drugs Authority, reiterated the call for resourcing the Authority to enable it to establish laboratory services for the testing of foods to provide data on trans-fats in the country.
Until data was provided it would be difficult to promulgate legislation to control trans-fats in Ghana, he said.
Mr Daddey-Adjei, who chaired the launch, urged the public to avoid the consumption of oily foods to prevent health problems and the related financial costs.
Mr Benjamin Anabila, the Director of INSLA, said the Institute started the trans-fats elimination project in May 2021 in pursuant of achieving the REPLACE package.
He expressed gratitude to the media for the support in launching the materials and appealed to them to continue to play their core roles of informing and educating the public.
He commended Vital Strategies, Resolve To Save Lives/LINKS, the Ministry of Health, FDA, Ghana Health Service, the National Health Insurance Authority, the WHO, Food and Agriculture Organisation, School Health Education Programme and the Ghana Education Service for their support.
By Albert Allotey, GNA