With the first and biggest battle won against NCDs at the end of 2017, the Health Promotion Levy (HPL) comes into effect from April 2018.
The tax works in the following way, the first 4g of sugar per 100ml in a drink is exempt from taxation. Any sugar after this is charged at a rate of 2.1c per gram. If a company does not give the exact sugar content of its drink, it will be taxed at a base rate of 20g per 100ml. This tax would see certain drinks like Coca-Cola being taxed 10% of the can.
The second win is the establishment of an NCDs Commission within the frame work of the National Health Insurance. The Commission’s purpose is to coordinate policy and action across government and society to maximize NCDs prevention and control. Its official name is the South African National Health Commission. Combined with the HPL, this will go a great distance to an NCDs free future for all South Africans.
By calling the sugar tax a “health promotion levy” the intention to use a portion for health promotion work. However, there is no clear outline or understanding of how the collections will be spent or allocated.
The SANCDA along with it civil society partners and stakeholders are lobbying for the money to be used to directly fund the fight against NCDs. It is important to have clear measurable plans with a budget to fund education, civil society action, screening and treatment of people at risk and living with NCDs.
The people of South Africa deserve to have a fighting chance against the scourge of NCDs gripping the nation and civil society is best equipped to take this fight to the most basic of ground level where the government cannot or struggles to reach.