The World Health Organisation (WHO) has come out in support of government’s introduction of a sugar tax in an attempt to reduce excessive sugar intake to prevent and control diabetes, obesity and other noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
WHO representative to South Africa, Dr Rufaro Chatora, said: “WHO member states around the world, including South Africa, have committed to halt the rise of obesity and diabetes, reduce premature deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025 and one-third by 2030, the latter target in line with the sustainable development goals.
“This is one of the interventions proposed in the strategy for the prevention and control of obesity in South Africa 2015-2020. WHO has supported the introduction of such taxes since it was proposed by the National Treasury in August 2016.”
Chatora took part in a parliamentary hearing on January 31 to discuss the proposed sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) tax. During his presentation, he highlighted the evidence and the impact of an SSB tax.
“Experience from other countries which implemented the same tax demonstrates its potential to reduce consumption of sugar and raise revenues that can be used to prevent and control diabetes, obesity and other noncommunicable diseases.
“In recent days, the WHO executive board was held – during which board members asked the WHO secretariat for more information on a range of policy options and cost-effective interventions proposed by WHO to prevent and control NCDs, including the use of taxation on SSBs, before the next World Health Assembly in May.
WHO was ready to support South Africa and other countries to protect and improve the health of their citizens and offer effective, technically sound and feasible measures to promote health for all people, he added.