The recent dietary advisory published by the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (WHO EMRO) advising people not to consume palm oil during the Covid-19 pandemic stating it contains saturated fats is a terribly misleading advisory which will jeopardise WHO’s authoritative standing on health and nutrition in the global community.
As billions of the world’s population are fighting the Covid-19 pandemic now, any health and nutritional information provided by WHO will certainly carry weight and be considered influential. Hence it is critical that WHO predicates its advisories on sound scientific data.
WHO EMRO advisory stated that palm oil contains saturated fats and advised the public not to consume palm oil and certain other tropical oils during the Covid-19 pandemic reflects grave ignorance and a fallacy on the nutritional value of palm oil, amongst the medical officers in the agency.
I take very strong objection to the WHO EMRO advisory. Despite having in its midst a highly qualified personnel, WHO seems surprisingly oblivious to internationally accepted facts that palm oil has a natural balance of saturated and unsaturated fats, to ensure the absorption of various dietary micronutrients, and does not require hydrogenation. This, therefore, renders the information contained in the advisory as completely inaccurate and illusory.
I am sure WHO has easy and full access to various studies and authoritative researches on palm oil by world renowned scientists and researchers. Amongst others, studies have proven that palm oil, particularly unrefined red palm oil contains high nutritional values, particularly vitamin A, Vitamin E tocotrienol and vitamin K.
It is also noteworthy that some international aid agencies, including agencies under United Nations have recommended that red palm oil be given to some poor nations in Africa to augment vitamin A deficiency.
It is not surprising that this is not the first time WHO has published such articles that gave misleading information on palm oil. Last year, its journal carried an article which discredited palm oil and likened it to tobacco (a carcinogen) and alcohol. Palm oil contributes to 36 percent of the world vegetable oils, and palm oil is very much needed by the fast growing world population.
I would therefore sincerely urge WHO to earnestly consult Malaysia’s top scientists and expert panels at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) to get their facts right before allowing its EMRO to shoot itself in the foot. Worse still whilst degrading palm oil, WHO EMRO went on to promote a certain group of other vegetable oils such as olive oil (a Mediterranean edible oil). This explains the partiality of WHO EMRO.
Notably, it has also unleashed and propagated such whimsical advisory an opportune time, during a pandemic, to selfishly serve its regional interests. Accordingly, I would strongly urge that WHO vigorously maintain its neutrality and order its EMRO to immediately retract the said anti palm oil advisory.
Member of Parliament for Seputeh
Former Minister of Primary Industries, Malaysia
Source : NST