The government of Uganda is under a legal mandate to uphold, protect, and fulfill the rights of all Ugandans including children’s rights to safety, health, adequate food, and well-being. Many Ugandans are however suffering and at risk of chronic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, and other obesity-related conditions yet these can be prevented.
In Uganda, Non-Communicable Diseases kill up to 100,000 people annually, which is 35% of the total annual deaths. Uganda is a member of the World Health Organisation and passed a resolution to act on the main risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases that is the unhealthy diet. Unhealthy diets start in childhood and build up throughout life; associated with overweight and obesity and children must maintain a healthy weight and consume foods that are low in saturated fat, trans-fatty acids, free sugars, or salt in order to reduce future risk of non-communicable diseases.
Marketing, advertising and broadcast of unhealthy foods and beverages in Uganda by the media is done before and after the watershed time lines, exposing children to unhealthy diets compromising their safety, right to health and the right to adequate food.
The respondents have failed and omitted to protect children from the adverse impact of marketing of unhealthy diets on children’s health in accordance with the rights of children as acknowledged by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the right to adequate food, as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (7), and consistent with the United Nations guidelines for consumer protection.
The respondents have also failed and omitted to put in place advertising and broadcasting standards in Uganda on the credulity of children and do not specifically protect them from unhealthy foods marketing.
It is on this background that Centre for Food and Adequate Living rights (CEFROHT) filed a case in the High Court of Uganda- Civil Division (miscellaneous cause no. 436of 2019) against the Government of Uganda through the Attorney General and the Uganda Communications Commission seeking the following orders.
- An order banning the marketing, broadcast, and advertisement of unhealthy foods to children in Uganda.
- An order against the 2nd respondent to ban all unhealthy foods’ advertisements and program sponsorship or broadcast before and after the Watershed in all media platforms including online media in Uganda.
- An order banning all the in-school advertisement and promotion of unhealthy foods to children in Uganda.