NMA launches project to improve cardiovascular health

Gloria Essien, Abuja


The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA has launched a campaign to end the consumption of Trans Fatty Acids in Nigeria.

The campaign known as ” Improving the Cardiovascular Health of Nigerians Project, ICON, is expected to effectively ban the importation, production and distribution of Trans Fatty Acids, TFAs, to the citizens.

Speaking at the launch, the president of the Nigerian Medical Association, Dr. Francis Faduyile, who was represented by the First Vice President of the association, Dr. Kenneth Tijo Mingeh, said that TFAs are very dangerous to health.

“This will set the stage for the robust engagements that shall follow to ensure that our partner; NAFDAC finds the courage to effectively ban the importation, production or distribution of the TFAs within the Nigerian market going forward. There are overwhelming body of evidence of the harmful effects of TFAs in our diets; justifying the rationale for outright ban or at least a monitored restriction to not more than 2% in all publicly available foods in Nigeria. I would not bore you with the statistics because our resources person and the NMA National Strategic Manager will do justice to that in course of their presentations,” he said.

He noted that participants were invited to brainstorm on the way forward for healthy heart.

“We have invited you all here today to brainstorm and engender a robust consensus as to what we must have all do to respond to the clarion call by the World Health Organization upon all nations of the world to act decisively and take conscientious steps to eliminate or restrict the consumption of all forms of industrially produced Trans Fatty Acids (TFAs) within their domains and by extension from the global food supply chains. The objectives and key expectations from our technical sessions today are well focused and I will be very delighted to see us achieve them within the next couple of hours,” he said.

Healthy Behaviour
He also urged Nigerians to engage in healthy behaviour and protect their hearts.

The National Strategic Programme Manager of the Nigerian Medical Association Dr. Tonnie Okoye, said that the Improving the Cardiovascular Health of Nigerians, ICON, Project is a child of necessity.

Speaking on behalf of the ministry of health, the Director Food and Nutrition, Dr. Evelyn Ngige, said that that the ministry would adopt the recommendations of the project.

“We also want to reiterate that the Ministry would promote whatever we find as the recommendations here because we are going to pass on the recommendations from this gathering to the honourable Minister and we assure you that the Ministry will look towards these recommendations and see how they can use it to better the health of the country,” she said.

A partner in the project, from the Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Dr. Francis Anyido, said that if the issue of cardiovascular diseases is not addressed, more Nigerians would be lost to sudden deaths.

“The Trans Fatty Acids is an issue that we need to tackle, one of the challenges for Nigeria as our population grows is that if we want to gather the dividends of demographic for Nigeria with a bulky youth population we need to start fighting Trans Fatty acid because this may be one of the things that maybe projected to a lot of issues the young people will have in future in line with non communicable diseases,” he said.

The National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control is expected to facilitate the implementation of ICON.

The Director General of the Agency, Prof Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye pledged to fast track the implementation.

Action Plan
The DG who was represented at the event by Mrs. Ummukhairi Bobboi said that consumption of TransFat Acids is now associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

” To this end, NAFDAC is prepared to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders in order to come out with clear cut policies and actions plan to mitigate the public health effects of consumption of food with high level of TFA” she said.

Cardiovascular diseases are otherwise known as heart diseases. They do not give space for emergency most times as they kill very fast. They are caused by fatty acids blocking the hearts.

The best way to prevent cardiovascular diseases is not to eat fatty foods and through regular exercises.

The Improving the Cardiovascular Health of Nigerians Project, “ICON” is expected to work with relevant stakeholders to control the circulation of Fatty Products in Nigeria.

Nigerians were also advised to be mindful of what they consume to protect their hearts.