Launching the Uganda National Nutrient Profiling Model: A Milestone in Public Health Policy



Kampala,  Uganda, SHIFTMEDIA NEWS A landmark event that will change Uganda’s public health landscape in regards to safe food was witnessed in Kampala on Thursday, June 13 2024.

The event was the launch of the Uganda National Nutrient Profiling Model spearheaded by a collaborative effort between the Centre for Food and Adequate Living Rights (CEFROHT), Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI), FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) Uganda, and Consent-Uganda.

This initiative marked a significant step towards addressing malnutrition and promoting healthier dietary practices in the country.

Dr. David Kabanda, the Executive Director CEFROHT noted that most Ugandans were dying due to NCDs, after eating unhealthy foods. “Food is now a commodity, something that wasn’t in the past. Should people engaged in manufacturing food continue doing so to the detriment of people’s health? Mused Kabanda.

Dr Kabanda David 2nd left chats with some Mps after the launch at Fairway Hotel on Thursday June 13 2024

Kabanda observed that due to unhealthy diets, many Ugandans now days wake up in ‘installments’.

The launch event drew the attention of key stakeholders, including policymakers from Parliament, representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Ministry of Health, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards, academia, and the media.

Dr Charles Oyo, the Commissioner NCDs in the Ministry of Health said 22% (9.9 million) of Ugandans have a high change of dying prematurely due to NCDs, while 33% of the deaths in Uganda are as a result of NCDs. “Genetic can’t be modified, but most leading causes of NCDs are inactive physical activity, high consumption of alcohol, tobacco usage, stress emotional pollution, high consumption of saturated fats, sugar sweetened beverages, and salt among others,” said Dr Oyo.

Dr Charles Oyo Akia

He said recent statistics (2023) shows that 24% of Ugandans are overweight, a drastic increase from the 16% recorded in 2019.

“This Nutrient profiling that will include Front of the park labeling will help Ugandan consumers have a right choice regarding what they consume. We are not against industries, manufacturing foods, the journey to enhance healthy diets starts now, though it won’t be an easy one,” he said.

Henry Kimera, the Team Leader of CONSENT Uganda said carbonated drinks are more consumed where majority of people live. “Majority of Ugandans don’t go to supermarkets, but find these bad foods near where they reside. I also ask the media to investigate why most schools these days don’t allow parents to take cooked food from home to their children during visiting days in preference to deadly fast and junk foods,” said Kimera

Consent UGANDA Team leader Henry Kimera

Dr. Rehema Namaganda, the Executive Director of FIAN Uganda, alongside other delegates who shared insights and perspectives on the importance of the Nutrient Profiling Model for Uganda’s public health agenda said that much as food is medicine, it can also be poison. ‘We don’t just need food, but nutritious food. We need system were Ugandans can feed themselves in dignity,” said Namaganda.

FIAN Uganda ED Dr Rehema Namaganda

Peninah Mbabazi, the Program Officer Trade and Justice at SEATINI said food is a trade issue that should be handled with care. “Poor public health creates a weak market and can be a security issue,” said Mbabazi.

Christopher Kwizera

Christopher Kwizera the Country Manager Uganda NCD Alliance said every one is a potential threat to NCDs in Uganda. He said that 75 % of Ugandans who are diagnosed with cancer at the Uganda Cancer Institute die after one year.

Samalie Namukose the Assistant Commissioner Nutrition Department in the Ministry of Health said the Uganda National Nutrient Profiling Model represents a comprehensive framework designed to evaluate the nutritional quality of foods and beverages available in the market. “By assessing the nutrient content of various food products, the model aims to inform consumers, guide food manufacturers, and assist policymakers in making evidence-based decisions to promote healthier dietary choices. This initiative is particularly crucial in Uganda, where malnutrition remains a pressing public health challenge, affecting individuals across all age groups and socio-economic backgrounds,” said Namukose.

Key Highlights

One of the key highlights of the launch event was the emphasis on the role of policy intervention in addressing malnutrition and improving food systems. Speakers underscored the need for robust regulatory measures to promote the production, marketing, and consumption of nutrient-rich foods while discouraging the consumption of unhealthy products high in sugar, salt, and saturated fats. Legislators such as Hon Lulume Bayiga, Agnes Taaka (Bugire Woman Mp), who sit on the Uganda Parliamentary Alliance on Food and Nutrition Security noted that through the implementation of the Nutrient Profiling Model, policymakers can establish standards and guidelines that prioritize the nutritional value of foods, thereby contributing to the overall well-being of the population.

Dr Lulume Bayiga

“The collaborative nature of the initiative exemplifies the power of partnerships in driving positive change. By bringing together organizations with diverse expertise and resources, the launch of the Nutrient Profiling Model reflects a shared commitment to advancing public health and nutrition outcomes in Uganda,” said Dr Lulume Bayiga.

What lies Ahead

The significance of the Uganda National Nutrient Profiling Model extends beyond the realms of public health to encompass broader socio-economic implications. A healthier population translates into a more productive workforce, reduced healthcare costs, and enhanced resilience to diseases. By investing in nutrition-sensitive policies and programs, Uganda can unlock its human capital potential and pave the way for sustainable development.

As the Nutrient Profiling Model begins its implementation phase, stakeholders must remain vigilant in monitoring progress and addressing potential challenges. This entails ongoing research, data collection, and stakeholder engagement to refine the model and adapt to evolving dietary patterns and market dynamics. Furthermore, efforts should be made to ensure the accessibility and affordability of nutritious foods, especially for vulnerable populations, including women, children, and marginalized communities.

As the nation embarks on this transformative path, the commitment and collaboration demonstrated at the launch event serve as a beacon of hope for a healthier and more prosperous future.

Shift Media News

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