The Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has trained journalists from the five states of the Southeast on effective reporting of trans fats. The two-day training organised in conjunction with the Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) in Enugu was funded by the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI). The training was facilitated by local and international public health, media, and communications experts including Joy Amafah, country director of the GHAI, Dr. Jerome Mafeni, executive director of Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) and Dr. Eva Edwards of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) who shared information on the status of the NAFDAC regulations on transfats.
The journalists were drawn from print, broadcast, and online media from Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States.
The training module targeted building the capacity of Nigerian journalists to understand and exhaustively report on TFAs and its link with poor health for consumers, Strengthening the relationship between Nigerian journalists, civil society advocating a trans fat-free Nigeria and the regulatory agency (ies), particularly NAFDAC, and Sharing knowledge about local, national, and global issues relating to TFAs and the oils and fats industry.
Enugu State Commissioner for Health, Professor Professor Ikechukwu Obi who was special guest at the event explained that the goal of this training is in sync with the visions of the Enugu State Government for a healthy citizenry as espoused in its Health sector reform law, which provides for a legal framework for citizen participation in health sector and the setting of new standards for health research and information system management.
The commissioner noted that the high levels of trans fat in foods consumed by Nigerians, from the fast foods to re-used oils, means the nation is sitting on a keg of gun powder that might explode at any time in form of cardiovascular disease of many kinds.
He revealed that the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2021 reported that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of deaths globally and that a year earlier, an estimated 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular diseases, representing 32% of all global deaths.
According to him, “of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke”, even as he added that if there is anything that public health advocates learnt in the fight against COVID-19, it is the realization that working together, challenge that threaten the collective well-being of the citizenry can be overcome.
He also commended NAFDAC for approving the draft Fats and Oils Regulation 2019 and the Pre-Packaged Foods, Water, and Ice Labelling Regulations 2019, insisting that once the regulations are gazetted, Nigeria will leapfrog into the list of countries that have put in place effective regulations to limit or eliminate trans fats in the diets of her citizens.
Earlier, CAPPA Executive Director, Akinbode Oluwafemi explained that the training was informed by the need to capacitate the media to play effective roles in reporting transfats and amplifying the work of the Transfat-free Nigeria coalition.
Oluwafemi explained that what is consumed should be everyone’s business hence the importance of a well-informed media in getting the right message to ordinary Nigerians and policy makers to elicit the change that the #Transfatfree Nigeria coalition craves for.