Dr. Akwasi Kyei-Faried, Deputy Director at the Disease Control and Prevention Department of the Ghana Health Service, has called on citizens in developing countries, to get actively involved in the campaign against tobacco use. He said according to the World Health Organisation, seven out of 10 deaths recorded in developing countries were caused by tobacco usage, and that if appropriate steps were not taken between now and the year 2030, 70 per cent of the people would perish.Dr. Kyei-Faried made the call when he spoke on “Ghana’s Tobacco Control Regulation: Progress and Challenges, ” at a strategic meeting of Coalition of NGOs in Tobacco Control and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).It was organized by the Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organization into campaign against tobacco use in Ghana.The meeting, which was attended by 30 participants, discussed, shared ideas and strategized on how effectively CSOs in health could get involved in the Agenda 2030: “Time for Action on NCDs” (Non-Communicable Diseases), which 193 world leaders including Ghana, committed themselves to, in September, 2015 to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The leaders targeted 169 goals to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect the planet by 2030.Health is central with Goal ‘Three, ’ which focuses on improving health and well being for all at all ages, of which tobacco control has been captured.Dr. Kyei-Faried said, currently tobacco use killed eight million people annually worldwide, and that if appropriate measures were not put in place to control it by 2025, the deaths would increase to 10 million.He said the Ghana government had taken steps to reduce the importation and the usage of tobacco products by increasing the ad-valorem tax to 175 per cent, and also added in the Legislative Instrument (LI) the sale of cigarettes in packs, rather than single sticks.He said the LI on the ban on tobacco smoking in public was before Parliament, and that the introduction of pictorial warnings on cigarette packs would start next year.
The Deputy Director noted that the irony of the situation was that the poor in society were rather more involved in tobacco use than the rich, and that developing countries were at par with their developed counterparts.Dr. Kyei-Faried urged CSOs to continue with the awareness creation, whilst they went round the country to monitor health issues, especially the smoking of “Shisha” and tobacco, and submitted reports to the Ministry of Health for steps to be taken.Mr. Issah Ali, the Executive Director of VALD, took the participants through the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), and the activities of the Conference of the Parties (COPs).
He said the Parties stood for the 180 countries, including Ghana, that rectified the FCTC, and the COPs were the decision makers of the Convention, which was the international law that protected the States on tobacco.He asked members of the CNTC and CSOs to become conversant with the FCTC, the Tobacco control measures, and the content of the law, whilst reminding them of their responsibility to monitor.
Mr. Labram Musah, the Programmes Director of VALD, in a presentation on the SDGs, said the Goals had come to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and as good health advocates, the CSOs needed to take advantage of it and move fast in writing proposals to seek financing support to take up tobacco control activities.He said the development donor partners were waiting to see comprehensive programme packages on health, before they committed financial support to them, adding, “we should not relax, but be proactive.”Mr. Musah said so far as tobacco control had been captured in the SDGs, it was a big deal for CSOs in health to support government in increasing tax on tobacco products so that they could also demand their share of the monies to carry out education on the harmful effects of tobacco usage.