The Framework Convention Alliance for Tobacco Control

WHA's positive outcomes only the first step

By Laurent Huber
FCA Director

I am happy to report that FCA's advocacy ahead of and at the recent 66th World Health Assembly (WHA) resulted in good progress on promoting implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC); however we will have to redouble our efforts if we want to see tobacco control become a priority on the post-2015 development agenda.

The 66th WHA adopted a strong resolution on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which will help us advocate for accelerated implementation of the FCTC. The so-called 'omnibus resolution' includes a number of ambitious commitments to turn the tide on NCDs and their risk factors, including:

• Reduce premature mortality due to NCDs by 25 percent by 2025;
• Cut tobacco use by 30 percent by 2025.

A new NCD Global Action Plan was also adopted by the WHA. It will guide the work of the WHO Secretariat and regional offices, international partners and WHO Member States between 2013 and 2020. The Action Plan explicitly calls for accelerated implementation of the FCTC. Let me once again thank all FCA members for their great efforts to promote this objective and communicate FCA's message ahead of the meeting in Geneva. (See FCA's position).

However, while there were substantial achievements at the WHA, we still need to increase our advocacy efforts to ensure that tobacco control and FCTC implementation are adequately addressed in the post-2015 development agenda. It was disappointing that tobacco control did not get the attention it deserves in the recent release of the High Level Panel report on post-2015 development priorities. This report is one of the key documents that will influence discussion on how the world tackles development issues once the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) end in 2015.

The report highlights the role of health in the development agenda and proposes to reduce the burden of NCDs, but it fails to mention the devastating impacts of tobacco use and the need to accelerate implementation of the FCTC. We need to ensure that this omission is not repeated in other documents and discussions around the new set of development goals.

The tobacco control community has made great strides in recent years to get FCTC implementation recognised as a global health and development priority, so we cannot let this omission go unanswered in the next stages of the MDGs review process. The tobacco control community will need to act quickly and strongly in order to ensure that tobacco control and FCTC implementation are adequately highlighted when governments start to review recommendations on successor MDGs at September's UN General Assembly.

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