The World Health Organization has announced strong support for Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s announcement that sugary beverages were to be taxed.
The sugary drinks tax is part of the country’s campaign to promote the good health among citizens and combat the increasing challenges of diabetes and obesity. The tax was among several important health measures announced as part of Government’s strategies for the 2017/18 budget.
Implementation to be finalised
Gordhan said the tax would be implemented later this year after all details were finalised and legislation had been passed.
By implementing a tax on sugary drinks to increase the prices of these beverages, South Africa will be taking a proactive step to reduce intake of sugars, which contribute to unhealthy weight gain and other diet-related NCDs, including diabetes.
“The World Health Organization fully supports the Government of South Africa’s commitment to implement a tax on sugary drinks as part of its ongoing drive to improve the health of its people and address the epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs),” said Dr Rufaro Chatora, WHO’s representative to South Africa.
He added: “By implementing a tax on sugary drinks to increase the prices of these beverages, South Africa will be taking a proactive step to reduce intake of sugars, which contribute to unhealthy weight gain and other diet-related NCDs, including diabetes.”
SA’s stance a good example
“South Africa’s stance on sugary drinks, and other products that impact on health, such as tobacco and alcohol, sets an example for other countries to follow. By taking such actions, South Africa is demonstrating that with political commitment and investment in health promotion that it is possible to beat back the scourge of NCDs, including diabetes and obesity.”
Dr Chatora said the cooperation between various sectors of government to implement the sugary drinks tax, including the ministries of finance and health, demonstratesd the relevance of action on non-communicable diseases to many areas of society – not only health.