One in four Ghanaians will suffer stroke in the next 10 to 20 years if nothing is done to control the conditions that induce the ailment.
Presently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 94,000 people suffer stroke annually in the country.
These were made known at the project launch on trans-fatty acid at a forum dubbed “High Level Engagement on the Elimination of Trans-fatty Acids (TFA) in Ghana,” in Accra.
The project was launched by the Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA) and christened “Making Ghana TFA free to improve Heart Health”.
Trans-fatty acids are manufactured fats created during a process called hydrogenation — the process of combining fat, typically vegetable oils, with hydrogen in order to make it more saturated.
They may be particularly dangerous for heart health and may pose a risk for certain cancers.
Trans-fats are a form of unsaturated fats associated with a number of negative health effects.
Artificial trans-fats are created during hydrogenation, which converts liquid vegetable oils into semi-solid partially hydrogenated oil.
Trans-fats can also be found naturally in meat and dairy.
The Director of INSLA, Benjamin Anabila, said the problems associated with trans-fatty acid were a potential national disaster, which could “surpass the devastation caused by COVID-19 in the country”.
He said TFA had been identified as the leading cause of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
According to him, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, peripheral arterial diseases and aortic disease had assumed significant importance in the global public health arena, with cardiovascular diseases now regarded as the number one cause of death.
Mr. Anabila said in 2012, an estimated 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular diseases globally, representing 31 per cent of all global deaths.
He said the first phase of the 18-month project would seek to create awareness of the negative impact of TFAs and advocate their elimination from the country.
He said currently, only South Africa and Kenya had been able to eliminate TFAs from their food chain.
A lecturer at the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), Dr Phyllis Addo, said TFAs — unlike saturated fats which increased bad cholesterol — also reduced one’s good cholesterol and increased the risk of heart diseases.
Presently, she said, there was no policy in the country regarding the need to eliminate TFAs, and, therefore, manufacturers had capitalised on the loop-hole to dump foods and oils that contained TFAs such as snacks, baked and fried foods in the country.
She called on the public to ensure that they read labels on whatever they bought for consumption so as to avoid foods that were high in fatty acids.
The acting Head, Public Health and Health Promotion, of the Ministry of Health, Mr Mark Atuahene, said the ministry was ready to partner stakeholders to generate a policy on TFAs in the country.
A representative of WHO, Dr. Elise Kodjoe, said the world body was spearheading a global initiative to eliminate trans-fats in the world by 2030.