Peshawar: A Media Sensitization Session organized by the Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) held at a local hotel in Peshawar yesterday on the health risks of Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSB) and the need to increase taxes / surcharges.
Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) Director Operations and General Secretary Sanaullah Ghman said that PANAHhas been working for the last 37 years to protect the people from heart disease.We have always strived to keep our men, women and especially our children healthy, so that they can play their part in the development of the beloved homeland.But all this is not possible without a healthy life. In order to stay away from diseases, we have to give up the factors that cause diseases.Excessive consumption sugary drinks is a major cause of many diseases including heart, obesity, diabetes, stomach, liver teeth and other diseases. Raisingtaxes on sugary drinks would be a positive strategy by FBR to reduce its consumption and increase potential revenue for the country.
General Secretary Diabetes Association of Pakistan Prof. Dr. Abdul Basit said that the number of diabetes cases in Pakistan are sharply increasing. The prevalenceof diabetes has increased in the young population as well. According to the International Diabetes Federation, Pakistan ranks fourth globally among countries with highest number of diabeticpatients.In only two years, the number of diabetic patients in Pakistan have grown from 19.4 million to 33 million. Excess blood glucose due to diabetes damages the blood vessels, one of the major causes of neurological complications.It damages the blood vessels in the brain and eyes, and weakens memory and vision.We have to understand that sugary drinkshavedevastating harms to health, and institutions like FBR and Ministry of Finance should take urgent steps to protect our population’s health and associated economic losses.
Munawar Hussain, Consultant Food Policy Program at Global Health Advocacy Incubator, said that obesity in increasing alarmingly in Pakistanwhich is major contributor to various non-communicable diseases like heart disease and diabetes etc. He said that PIDE has estimated 428 billion as cost of overweight and obesity in Pakistanin 2015. Sugary drinks have no benefits but only contributing to diseases burden and increased hospital expenditure. Pakistan has lower taxes on sugary drinks in the region and among other countries. Government should take emergency measures and consider increasing federal excise duty on sugary drinks to minimum of 20%. In addition, the health contribution bill should be approved by the National Assembly as an emergency measure to impose levy of sugary drinks. He said that policy makers must give priority to public health over corporate interest and take measures to reduce consumption of sugary drinks.