In continuation of efforts to deepen the reportage of trans-fats in the media, the Corporate Accountability for Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), a not-for-profit organisation in Nigeria has organised a training for journalists from the South-Eastern region on the subject.
The two-days event held 6-7 May 2022 in Enugu, capital of Enugu state and had eighteen journalists from Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra, Imo and Enugu in attendance.
Giving his remarks at the event, Commissioner for Health, Enugu state, Professor Ikechukwu Obi said that the training will be an avenue to pressure the relevant government agencies to pass the fats and oils regulations into law, “As most of you already know, the high levels of trans-fat in foods consumed by Nigerians, from the fast foods to re-used oils, means we are sitting on a keg of gun powder that might explode at any time in form of cardiovascular disease of many kinds. We believe this training will contribute significantly to the body of knowledge that will be in the public domain to educate Nigerians and pressure the relevant agencies of government at federal level to gazette the regulations.”
A Director of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the National Agency for Foods and Drugs, Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Eva Edwards, explained that the 2022 regulations were based on the 2005 regulations and stated why it was amended.
Speaking on Trans-Fat Regulation as a Public Health Emergency: Beyond the Rhetoric, Joy Amafah, In-Country Coordinator, Global Health Advocacy Incubation (GHAI), emphasized on the reason why the fats and oils regulation must be gazetted. She sighted this as the permanent solution for relevant government agencies to be able to monitor and have control over the oils produced for the populace to consume.
With various challenges that accompanied the consumption of Trans-fatty foods, Dr Jerome Mafeni, Technical Director at NHED speaks about Understanding Trans-Fat and its Health Impacts where he listed various current health challenges faced by Nigerians as related to trans-fat, defined some keywords, and described their relationships. He drew the attention of the audience to the seemingly increase in the sudden deaths of young people as he emphasized poor health systems as part of the health challenges.
Addressing participants on Trans-fat, Executive Director of CAPPA, Mr. Akinbode Olufemi reiterated the need for the training as he mentioned that ‘media is the theatre of the campaign’; a common phrase at the organization which is now an African leader in pushing policy advocacy, awareness, and community building.
He enjoined the participants to concentrate fully as they’d be learning from experts across the Health, Media, Advocacy, and Public Campaign sectors. He also urged them to seize the opportunity to engage all government representatives at the event to put more pressure on relevant agencies for gazette of the bill.
The training was facilitated by local and international public health, media, and communications experts and 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.
The journalists were drawn from print, broadcast, and online media from Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States.