Global Health Action | 2021
Study design: policy landscape analysis for sugar-sweetened beverage taxation in seven sub-Saharan African countries
ABSTRACT This paper reports on the design of a study to examine the policy landscape relevant to sugar-sweetened beverage taxation in seven sub-Saharan African countries. The study responds to the need for strong policy to address the rising burden of non-communicable diseases in the region. Sugar-sweetened beverage taxation has been widely recommended as a key component of a comprehensive policy approach to NCD prevention. However, it has proved a contentious policy intervention, with industry strongly opposing the introduction of such taxes. The aim was to identify opportunities to strengthen sugar-sweetened beverage taxation-related policy for the prevention of nutrition-related NCDs in a subset of Eastern and Southern African countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana, Rwanda, Namibia, Zambia, Uganda. The study was conducted as a collaboration by researchers from nine institutions; including the seven study countries, South Africa, and Australia. The research protocol was collaboratively developed, drawing on theories of the policy process to examine the existing availability of evidence, policy context, and stakeholder interests and influence. This paper describes the development of a method for a policy landscape analysis to strengthen policies relevant to NCD prevention, and specifically sugar-sweetened beverage taxation. This takes the form of a prospective policy analysis, based on systematic documentary analysis supplemented by consultations with policy actors, that is feasible in low-resource settings. Data were collected from policy documents, government and industry reports, survey documentation, webpages, and academic literature. Consultations were conducted to verify the completeness of the policy-relevant data collection. We analysed the frames and beliefs regarding the policy ‘problems’, the existing policy context and understandings of sugar-sweetened beverage taxation as a potential policy intervention, and the political context across relevant sectors, including industry interests and influence in the policy process. This study design will provide insights to inform public health action to support sugar-sweetened beverage taxation in the region.