Experts call on leaders to act before tobacco use epidemic hits Africa
By Lutgard Kokulinda Kagaruki,
FCA Board member
A committee of experts has released its recommendations on how African governments should reduce the current and future health impacts of tobacco use.
In a report sponsored by the Network of African Science Academics (NASAC) the experts conclude government should:
- Provide human and financial resources for tobacco control programmes;
- Encourage external partners to support their plans and,
- Enact legislation to augment these efforts.
Governments should also prioritise the implementation and enforcement of the principal articles of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (Art 5.3, 6, 8, 13, 11, 4 & 12 and 17&18, says the report, titled “Preventing a Tobacco Epidemic in Africa; a call for effective action to support health, social and economic development”.
The document was launched in Johannesburg, on 25 March.
The committee, convened in April 2013, reviewed and assessed the evidence on the state of tobacco use and tobacco production and their detrimental health, economic and environmental effects in Africa. It also reviewed efforts underway to prevent and control tobacco use, including the status of adoption and ratification of the FCTC.
“The committee hopes that this report will, in some way, contribute to the prioritization of tobacco use, prevention and control on the agenda of the AU,” says the report’s Overarching Recommendation.
“The committee further hopes that African leaders will act swiftly and decisively to avert a tobacco use epidemic before it occurs, safeguarding Africa’s health, economy and development in the process,” it adds.
Ethiopia latest Party
On 23 June 2014, Ethiopia became the newest African Party to the treaty (and 178th Party overall). 43 of 46 African countries are now FCTC Parties.
The report outlines strategies that should place tobacco control policy on the African leadership agenda and also calls upon other groups, such as civil society organisations, to share in the responsibility of protecting those most vulnerable to misleading and deceitful messaging by the tobacco industry.
Participants at the launch came from nine countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC): Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and host, South Africa. A representative of the SADC Secretariat was also present to ensure that information from the meeting is delivered to SADC leaders to enable them to take the necessary steps.
Participants were also encouraged to enlighten their health ministers on the report as a preparation to the upcoming health ministers’ meeting in Addis Ababa in April, 2014.
The launching ceremony was officiated by Prof Roseanne Diab, Executive Officer, Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF); Dr Yussuf Saloojee of the National Council Against Smoking, South Africa; Dr Evan Blecher, Senior Economist, International Tobacco Control Research Programme, American Cancer Society and, Prof Robin Crewe, Board Member of the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC).