Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) has urged the federal and state governments in Nigeria to take urgent actions to address tobacco use, as well as the excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and salt, which are contributory factors to the country’s alarming cancer burden.
CAPPA, in a press statement to mark World Cancer Day 2024, with the theme “Close the Care Gap: Everyone Deserves Access to Cancer Care”, explained that there has been an upsurge in cancer cases recorded in Nigeria in recent times alongside other non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
The statement signed by CAPPA’s Media & Communications Officer, Robert Egbe also noted that “the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment, shows that Nigeria records over 120,000 new cases of cancer annually, while the National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan (2018-2022) estimates that Nigerians spend N12 billion annually on cancer treatment.”
Highlighting the role of tobacco use as a leading cause of cancer and cancer-related deaths, CAPPA explained that SSB consumption is also associated with a heightened risk of obesity-related cancers, including kidney and colon cancers, and the excessive intake of salt is linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer, among other health issues.
CAPPA’s Executive Director Akinbode Oluwafemi advised the government to tackle the problem from its roots, adding that better monitoring and regulation of tobacco, SSBs and salt consumption, among other measures, was a great place to start.
“The government cannot tackle the rising cases of cancer without addressing the risk factors holistically. These include taking concrete actions against tobacco use, the unhealthy consumption of salts, sugar-sweetened beverages, and other unhealthy dietary trends,” Oluwafemi said.
The CAPPA statement encouraged the government to improve public health by enforcing tobacco control measures as provided in the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015 and the Nigeria Tobacco Control Regulations, 2019. This includes prohibiting the unnecessary depiction of smoking in movies, as well as the effective implementation of graphic health warnings alongside the penalization of violators of tobacco control regulations.
For SSBs, the group called for an “increment of the SSB tax from N10 to N50 in the 2024 Finance Act, and for the government to work with public health stakeholders to develop a comprehensive legislative framework.””
CAPPA also urged the government to expedite the development of policy guidelines for salt reduction targets. These, Oluwafemi added, must include “mandatory limits of salt content in processed and packaged foods.”
CAPPA’s food and policy Manager, Abayomi Sarumi added: “In a country with more than 80% paying out-of-pocket for health expenditure, the government must prioritise legislations that shrink unhealthy food environments and promotes a healthy consumption culture in society.”