The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

Profile: J Dennis Rada, Tobacco Control Consultant, Inter American Heart Foundation Bolivia

Dennis 150pxInter American Heart Foundation Bolivia’s J Dennis Rada.
Countries in the early stages of implementing the global tobacco control treaty will have more chance of success if international and regional tobacco control communities collaborate, says J Dennis Rada of Inter American Heart Foundation-Bolivia.

Dennis says that if more collaboration happened, countries in the earlier stages could learn from others in the more advanced stages of implementing the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

“The earlier stage countries could learn best tobacco control practices and about international evidence that had been previously generated,” says Dennis. “This would lead to developing better tobacco control strategies.”

He adds that international cooperation would also provide more chances for resource mobilisation, technology and technical transfer.

Dennis has been working as a tobacco consultant for the Foundation since 2010. Since that time he has been involved with Bolivia’s graphic warning labels, the inclusion of the FCTC into the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, and contributed to increasing awareness about tobacco control within Bolivia’s government bodies.

Read on to find out more.

WHAT IS THE FOUNDATION’S PURPOSE IN BOLIVIA?

The organisation’s purpose is to work on tobacco control and promote access to health as a human right for everyone. Also, to educate primary healthcare workers and consumers, and to promote environmental protection.

IN TERMS OF THE FCTC, WHAT IS THE FOUNDATION WORKING ON?

We are working on a range of issues, such as:
•    advocacy with national and subnational authorities and government institutions;
•    development of national projects to accelerate FCTC implementation;
•    research to provide local evidence that contributes to the process of strengthening FCTC regulation;
•    advice to government authorities regarding FCTC implementation and events;
•    research on FCTC mechanisms of assistance and financing.

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES THE FOUNDATION FACES WHEN IT COMES TO DOING THIS WORK?

Tobacco industry interference is one of the biggest challenges for us. Also, we have to take into account that Bolivia is not a priority country for important funding resources on tobacco control. Another challenge is that at this early stage of tobacco control, civil society and decision makers in Bolivia are not fully aware of the tobacco epidemic’s consequences and challenges.

WHAT SUCCESS HAS THE FOUNDATION HAD IN RELATION TO THIS WORK?

We have had the following success:
•    Bolivia now has graphic warning labels on cigarette packages that cover 50 percent of both sides.
•    Inclusion of the FCTC in Bolivia’s UN Development Assistance Framework, which means tobacco control will be treated as a development priority.
•    We have contributed to increasing awareness about tobacco control within Bolivian government bodies;
•    We supported the Bolivian proposal for implementing the FCTC within the intergovernmental body known as the Union of South American Nations.
•    As part of the Bolivian delegation to the fifth session of the FCTC Conference of the Parties, we contributed to the creation of the working group on strengthening sustainable implementation of the FCTC, and to a comprehensive FCTC travel policy.

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO IMPLEMENT THE FCTC IN YOUR COUNTRY AND WHY?

Since Bolivia is a low-middle-income country, it faces major poverty and development issues. The social, economic and environmental burden of the tobacco epidemic is enormous here. Bolivia has the second highest tobacco consumption IN the Americas region (PAHO 2011), therefore it is critical to implement the FCTC here.

Bolivia has limited resources for health so we need cost effective policies for improving health and curbing smoking in order to save lives and protect the national economy.

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