Public policy should encourage businesses to reduce harm to public health – experts

Noncommunicable diseases – cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer cause 86% of deaths in Ukraine.

As UNIAN news Agency reports, stressed the participants of the press conference “Minimization of risk factors of noncommunicable diseases: how business and the public can help” dedicated to the Day of consumers.

The experts noted that encouraging business to reduce damage should be part of state policy in the sphere of public health that provides for the reduction of health risks, and will be based on the involved business.

Reducing harm should be the best that ensures the effectiveness of the changes. According to experts in our country the situation when it became the usual opposition to public health interests with economic interests, that deprives the problem possible to be solved because the issue has become a choice between health or yield. According to experts in medical law, Professor of the National University “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” Zoriana Chernenko out of this situation is possible thanks to a multisectoral partnership of government and business, and open dialogue. “Consumers in our country a limited selection. What market players put, we consumed and we have the choice, and second, we as consumers have a right to information. Consumer goods have a crucial impact on public health, therefore, the introduction of harm-reduction strategies on the part of manufacturers will help to reduce the level of premature mortality, excessive consumption of salt, sugar, TRANS fats and harmful ingredients. We create a coalition on harm reduction, which will be a platform for the exchange of constructive ideas between business and government under the supervision of the public and to scientists,” – said Chernenko. According to her, in Ukraine a lot of talk about medical reform, but little about public health.

“We have reached a point when it is appropriate to speak about legislative proposals to attract and ensure the commitment of various institutions, principally business, in the formation and implementation of national public health strategies. specific proposals we will present to the public and invite public discussion. We urge lawmakers to heed the suggestions of experts and the public,” – said Chernenko.

According to the Director of the research center on food hygiene of the Ministry of health of Ukraine, Chairman of the Association of dietitians of Ukraine Oleg Shvets, a daily intake of salt by the population of Ukraine is about 12-15 grams. “If you reduce the salt intake to 7-10 grams, this will bring savings of 3.3 billion dollars a year due to the fact that people will not have high blood pressure, complications of strokes and heart attacks. The number of strokes would fall by 23% cases of ischemic heart disease 17%, If we take human life is 20 thousand people who will die due to stroke, about 50 thousand people will not die due to coronary heart disease. And that’s just by reducing salt intake,” said Shvets.

“Reducing salt intake cannot be done in the health system, the state should do through inter-sector interaction. People should have the conditions to make a conscious choice. If we come to the store for bread (and the bread is the main source of salt), we should be able to compare the amount of salt in the bread. And choose the one that will be better for our health. Today we have a European regulation to inform consumers of food products. He translated and adapted. We hope that in a few years this document will become law in Ukraine,” – said Shvets. In his opinion, the most effective way is the adoption of laws that would limit the salt content, and other unwholesome ingredients, in particular, TRANS-fats, in a technologically restricted products. “We understand that this is difficult. To convince the government, market players, there is a need, we need a case – study on the use of salt, fats and the like. In particular, how their consumption affects morbidity and mortality. So a decrease of 5 grams of the consumption of TRANS fats per day. reduces by 23% the number of heart attacks,” – said Shvets. At the same time, the expert stressed that in this way it is necessary to work with the business to convince him, as is done in civilized European countries. “For example, in Austria, in the UK the medical community convinced the bakers’ Association that they need to gradually reduce the amount of salt in cereal products. Business understands that TRANS fat is extremely harmful substance, vyzyvayuschee atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, and so manufacturers deliberately refuse it. There are retail chains that refuse to take on sales of such unhealthy products,” – said Shvets.

The expert is convinced that it is necessary to limit the influence of advertising and aggressive marketing, especially aimed at children. “It is necessary to introduce standards that could be sold to schools as finished products, and the fact that you can cook” – said Shvets.

At the same time, leading scientific researcher, National scientific center “Institute of cardiology named after academician N. D. Strazhesko” National Academy of medical Sciences of Ukraine Olga Sribnaya focused on the problem of consumer awareness.

“We need to change the mentality, we need to train ourselves to read what you are buying and evaluate whether it is us. Must be able to read the labels and relate to yourself. There must be compliance with what is written and what is in this product. Should be given the level of salt in 100 g of product, level of fat, sugar levels. We must understand, will that complicate health problems,” said cardiologist.

According to experts in our country the situation when it became the usual opposition to public health interests with economic interests, that deprives the problem possible to be solved because the issue has become a choice between health or yield. The head of the Ukrainian narcological Association Anatoly vievskiy, explained the problem to the fact that “we love these black and white things. We need to oppose. And until, until we learn to find at least a gray area, stop naming gray area bad area, nothing happens. Harm reduction is just search for 50 shades of grey in a good way.”

“In the conditions of catastrophic shortage of public funds, the strategy of economic incentives for harm reduction appears to be one of the most realistic. Creating conditions for enterprises to become economically motivated to invest in research, technological developments that reduce the harmful effects of a product that Ukrainians traditionally eat is a simple and at the same time a good solution. And it is crucial that a policy of improving public health, impact on daily intake of a person should not be achieved through violence or policy requirements and prohibitions inherent in a totalitarian state regimes and using market mechanisms, public-private partnerships. The effectiveness of state policy depends on constructive cooperation, a synergy of efforts of all members of Ukrainian society. I would say more, a group of MPs is already working on relevant legislative initiatives in the near future we will submit them for consideration to the Verkhovna Rada”, – commented member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on European integration Elena Masorin.