Pakistan’s annual expenditure on diabetes reached to $2640m in 2021
Naveed Ahmad Khan
ISLAMABAD: The civil society organizations criticized the mini budget and raised suggestions for the Ministry of Finance and National Assembly. Delaying tax on sugar sweetened beverages is a double edge sword, hitting public health and the economy of the country.
This has been said in the media talk by civil society organizations here at a local hotel organized by Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH). Sana Ullah Ghumman, General Secretary and Director Operations of PANAH hosted the event. Munawar Hussain, Consultant Food Policy Program at Global Health Advocacy Incubator, Prof. Dr. Abdul Basit, General Secretary Diabetic Association of Pakistanand others addresses the workshop. The media session was attended by large number of representatives of civil society organizations working on child health, nutrition and child rights , Director NCDs DrSamrahMazhar,Coordinator Pakistan Academy of Family Physicians Dr. Ghulam Raza, National Coordinator Child Rights Movement Zohra Naqvi, General Secretary Burhani Foundation Murtaza Burhan,Advocate Ikhlaq Awan, Chairperson Fatima Malik Welfare Trust Fatima Malik,senior Journalist Khalid Chud ,Prof Rashid Sidhu, Dr Ayesha Sana, Coordinator Women Wing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Islamabad Rohi Hashmi and other civil society and a large number of journalists participated. The Civil Society Alliance meeting started with recitation from the Holy Quran.
Sana Ullah Ghumman, General Secretary and Director Operations of PANAH welcomed the participants. He raised his concern and said that delaying tax on sugar sweetened beverages will increase obesity, diabetes, heart diseases and other non-communicable diseases in the country. He said that sugar sweetened beverages are a double edged sward which is damaging people’s health, increasing mortality and hitting the economy of our country.
Director NCDs DrSamrahMazhar said that sugary drinks are not our priority of life,we should choose a healthy diet, taxes will deteriorate the situation of diabetes and other NCDs in the country. We should ensure the access to insulin and other treatment services to control diabetes.
Advocate Ikhlaq Awan and Roohi Hashmi said that our law and policy makers should consider increasing higher taxes on all type of sugary drinks covering flavored milk to sodas, juices and energy drinks. However, he welcomed the increase of tax on flavored milk in the mini budget. General Secretary Burhani Foundation MurtazaBurhani and other participants said that flavored milk is loaded with high amounts of sugar and is increasing child obesity and other diseases. He shared that overweight and obesity are risk factors for 13 of the 15 major types of cancer, increases risk of heart diseases and diabetes.Decreasing SSB consumption can reduce the prevalence of obesity and diet-related diseases
Munawar Hussain, Consultant Food Policy Program at Global Health Advocacy Incubators said that fiscal policies have important role for setting priorities for public health. Pakistan is facing a triple burden of malnutrition which include undernutrition, obesity and micronutrient deficiencies. Government should consider addressing malnutrition through a holistic and multi-sectoral approach. He said that obesity and non-communicable diseases are increasing in the country at an alarming rate. He said that various studies reflect clear evidence between increased consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and increase in diabetes. He mentioned that a meta-analysis of 8 studies (including more than 280,000 participants) found that a higher intake of SSBs was associated with a 30% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. He said that this situation needs urgent policy measures to reduce the menace of diabetes and other NCDs in the country. He said that increasing tax on SSBs is an evidence based strategy to reduce its consumption, obesity and associated diseases like diabetes.
Prof. Dr. Abdul Basit, General Secretary Diabetic Association of Pakistan said that nearly 31% adults are now living with diabetes in Pakistan. While referring to a report by the International Diabetes Federation, released in November 2021, he said that the number of adults living with diabetes has increased from 19.4 million to 33 million in just the last two years in Pakistan. In addition, more than 10 million people are living with impaired glucose tolerance in the country and further deteriorating the prevalence of diabetes. The annual expenditure on diabetes in Pakistan has increased to 2640 million US dollars in 2021 which is a great threat to our economy.He said that liquid sugars in the sugary drinks alter the body’s metabolism, affecting insulin, cholesterol, and metabolites that cause high blood pressure and inflammation. These changes to the body increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay, metabolic syndrome, and liver disease.He mentioned that Diabetic Association of Pakistan has repeatedly requested Chairman FBR and Finance Minister for increasing taxes on Sugar Sweetened Beverages to reduce its consumption.