The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

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Fighting tobacco use and NCDs is key to development, speakers tell UN event


Tobacco use and other risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are devastating populations and must be integrated into the post-2015 development agenda, said panellists at a United Nations event on 28 April.

FCA, along with the missions of Belgium, Jamaica and the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), co-sponsored the side event. 

Decision-makers

In the audience were decision-makers involved in the UN’s review and assessment of the global response to the NCDs epidemic; officials drafting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, and prominent members of civil society. 

We must “invest in the prevention of NCDs, not just disasters after they happen,” said HE Robert Aisi, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Papua New Guinea and chair of the PSIDS, in his opening remarks. He emphasized that NCDs cause 80 percent of premature deaths in the Pacific. 

Keynote speaker Sir George Alleyne, Director Emeritus of the Pan American Health Organization, recalled that NCDs were neglected in the past (MDGs) and must be included in the SDGs since we must focus on “human development.” He added that “NCDs can make human development unsustainable through their negative impact on health”.  

Funds lacking

FCA Director Laurent Huber pointed out that countries accounting for 90 percent of the world’s population are parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). However, although tobacco use is the number one NCDs risk factor addressed in national action plans, only 50 percent of governments have funded policies. 

Overcoming the tobacco epidemic is a development objective that the world could achieve by implementing the FCTC, added Laurent. 

“Complete implementation of the FCTC convention is necessary,” declared HE Ms Bénédicte Frankinet, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Belgium and co-facilitator of the NCD review and assessment. She described the FCTC as a “landmark in global health.” 

Jamaica deaths

“NCDs have been the leading cause of death in Jamaica for three decades, however not enough has been done to address risk factors,” noted the Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica, Shorna Kay-Richards. The international community’s current focus on NCDs “must be retained in the SDGs”, she added.  

Buoyed by the enthusiasm of the event, FCA will continue to monitor progress toward the upcoming, comprehensive UN review and assessment of the global fight against NCDs, scheduled for July. In addition, we look forward to the next session of the Open Working Group, 5-9 May. 

Watch a recording of the 28 April event

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