Pakistan has the fourth-highest worldwide burden of type-two diabetes with more than 19 million cases reported every year further increasing the number of affected pa-tients owing to increased con-sumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
Diabetic Association of Pakistan General Secretary Professor Dr Abdul Basit, in a press conference on Wednesday, called upon the government to impose heavy federal excise duty (FED) on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) to protect the popula-tion affected due to heavy consumption of sugar.
The press conference was organised by the Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH), Diabetic Association of Pakistan, Nation Development Organisation, Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance, Pakistan
Medical Association, National Commission on the Rights of Children, Child Rights Movement, Pakistan Family Physicians, Senior Physician Forum, Pakistan Kidney Patients Association and other public health advocates.
The public health repre-sentatives present at the press conference mentioned that as per World Health Organisation (WHO) data around 2,200 individuals were dying every year in Pakistan due to serious non-communicable diseases caused by heavy intake of sugar.
The press conference’s pur-pose was to highlight and publicise the interference of the beverage industry in fiscal policies announced by the gov-ernment in the 2021-22 budget.
Dr Basit stated that high consumption of SSBs like sodas, juices and energy drinks by adults and children in Pakistan was one of the major causes of obesity and related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases, some types of cancers, and even tooth decay.
He added that public and civil society organisations have resented the fact that the government had imposed no tax on the sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) responsible for generating the major bur-den of non-communicable diseases.
PANAH General Secretary Sanaullah Ghumman said the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has submitted a strong proposal to FBR for increasing FED on SSBs to a minimum of 20 per cent.
He stated that by considering the importance of this policy change, SAPM Health Dr Faisal Sultan wrote a letter to the finance minister request-ing his attention for increas-ing FED on SSBs. APP
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