Open letter to Treasury from Public Health Community of SA endorsing decision to implement sugar-sweetened beverage tax in 2017:
“We, representatives of the Public Health Community of South Africa, strongly endorse the decision to implement a sugar-sweetened beverage tax in 2017.
This important first step has been identified as a cost-effective intervention in both the National Department of Health’s Strategic plan for Non–Communicable Diseases and their National Strategic Plan for Obesity.
The implementation of the tax will need to be followed rapidly by a series of other measures to address the staggering obesity epidemic in this country that now rivals HIV and TB. This must include, among others, a population-wide health promotion campaign so that the public appreciates this tax as an enabling process to support individual and population-level health.
The decision to include this tax in the budget is the start of a far-sighted approach that will have a significant impact. Researchers at the Wits School of Public Health have shown that a 20% tax could reduce the number of obese people by almost a quarter of a million over the next 3-5 years. The tax would also prevent dental morbidity, which causes high levels of absenteeism at primary and high school level, particularly amongst those from disadvantaged backgrounds. A higher tax rate would have an even more significant impact on obesity, oral disease, diabetes and other related diseases.
Without urgent preventive measures, we will face a dire situation of growing deaths and disabilities in the next few years. This will disproportionately impact women, children and the poor and overwhelm our health systems.
We commend Treasury for including the tax on the agenda and we urge them to stand firm as they meet with the beverage industry on Thursday, 21 April 2016.”
- Public Health Association of South Africa
- World Federation of Public Health Associations
- South African Paediatric Association
- Rural Health Advocacy Project
- South African Food Sovereignty Campaign
- PRICELESS SA, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand
- Prof Laetitia Rispel, HOD, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand
- Dr. Veerasamy Yengopal, HOD, Community Dentistry, University of the Witwatersrand and Acting Chair, South African Association of Community Dentistry
- Dr. Mpho Molete, Specialist in Community Dentistry, University of the Witwatersrand, Chair of PHASA Special interest Group (Dental Public Health)
- Dr. Sundeep Ruder, Endocrinologist, Associate Lecturer, University of the Witwatersrand, Honorary Consultant Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital
- Dr. Saloshni Naidoo, HOD of the Discipline of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, University of KwaZulu-Natal
- Prof Mohamed Jeebhay, HOD and Director, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town
- Professor Leslie London, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town
- Prof Lilian Dudley, Department of Community Health, University of Stellenbosch
- Prof Usuf Chikte, Executive Head, Department of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch
- Professors Helen Schneider, David Sanders and Thandi Puoane, School of Public Health, University Western Cape
- Prof Attie Louw, Head, Community Dentistry, University of the Western Cape
- Prof Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Head of School, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University
- Dr. Ahmed Bhayat, Head, Community Dentistry, University of Pretoria
- Aadielah Makerer, Health Promotion and Development Foundation Network
- Dr. Yussuf Saloojee, Executive Director, National Council Against Smoking
- Dr. Irwin Friedman, Public Health Physician, Sustainable Enterprise for Enabling Development (SEED) Trust
- Prof Sudeshni Naidoo, Chair, Alliance for a Caries Free Future (ACFF), South African Chapter
- Centre for Diabetes and Endocrinology (Pty) Ltd (CDE – Your Partner in Diabetes)
- Distiller, Kramer & Associates Diabetes and Endocrine Practice, Houghton, Johannesburg”