- Government urged to take urgent policy action to reduce consumption of sugary drinks
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: A press session on “policy options to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks” was organized by the National Heart Association of Pakistan (PANAH).
PANAH Secretary General Sana Ullah Ghumman moderated the event.
On this occasion, Munawar Hussain, Consultant of the Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Dr Khawaja Masood Ahmed, National Nutrition Coordinator at the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, representatives of the civil society and the media were also present.
Mr. Sana Ullah mentioned the health services provided by PANAH in Pakistan and said that PANAH not only raises awareness about heart disease and other deadly diseases, but also works with lawmakers and policy makers to formulate policies. laws and policies to reduce non-communicable diseases. communicable diseases like heart, diabetes and other life threatening diseases. He said we should educate the public to drink water instead of sugary drinks to reduce the risk of diseases.
Munawar Hussain, consultant at Global Health Advocacy Incubators, said there is plenty of global and local evidence to support raising taxes on sugary drinks and reducing their consumption. In 2015, the annual cost of obesity in Pakistan was estimated at 428 billion rupees. We need to introduce a set of policies aimed at reducing the consumption of sugary drinks. This includes increasing the tax on sugary drinks, a school food policy, banning the marketing of sugary drinks, and front-of-package warning labels to protect our people from the harms of sugary drinks. Our policy makers should work on these tools to urgently reduce the consumption of sugary drinks.
Dr Khawaja Masood Ahmed, National Nutrition Coordinator at the Ministry of Health, said the consumption of sugary drinks has become a national threat and caused a public health emergency in Pakistan. He said the number of diabetics rose from 19.4 million in 2019 to 33 million in 2021.
Other representatives of different organizations also share their opinion on the matter. The high consumption of sugary drinks has a serious impact on our economy and no country can treat such a large number of people, the government should take all possible measures to deal with the emergency of diabetes in Pakistan, we fully support
the increase in the tax on all types of sugary drinks and all other measures aimed at reducing its consumption.
At the end of the event, a call was made for the government to take immediate action to save the lives of young people by imposing taxes, a school food policy, front-of-package warning labels and by banning the marketing of sugary drinks.
Civil society representatives also urged the government to positively proceed with the imposition of the health contribution bill as soon as possible.