Kuala Lumpur, 20 March 2019 — Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Muhamad’s announcement yesterday that the revenue from the upcoming sugar tax would be channeled towards the funding of health programmes for school children is very much welcomed by the Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy.
“We believe that earmarking this revenue for this purpose should go towards providing continued long-term support for and expansion of the Healthy Food in School Programme (HiTS) or Program Hidangan Berkhasiat di Sekolah. This Ministry of Health (MOH) initiative works to combat the problem of malnutrition and childhood obesity among primary school children,” highlighted Chief Executive, Azrul Mohd Khalib.
“This innovative programme, piloted in 2007 by the MOH and later expanded in 2013 in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, prepares nutritious food packs for students. It has been successful in not only ensuring that the food and drinks provided met recommended nutritional requirements, but has also been able to do so at a remarkable cost of RM3 per day.”
“HiTS was also found to have a socioeconomic impact in helping alleviate household burdens, particularly those of the B40 group. Parents found that the free prepared healthy meals in schools meant they did not have to provide recess money to their children to purchase food from the school canteen or street vendors. These were often cheap but extremely unhealthy with high glycemic index content.”
“The revenue from the sugar tax will go a long way in ensuring that innovative and successful programmes such as HiTS are properly invested with the resources needed and have the funding necessary for scaling up to the national level, covering all primary schools. HiTS currently involves several hundred students in less than 50 schools nationwide.”
“Fighting non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer and obesity is a long game and requires vision, committed investments and political will to ensure that we are able to reap the results of a healthier people and nation.”
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