Monday, October 29, 2007

All must support tobacco control

The fight against tobacco control is limitless making it impossible for a sole entity to battle it single-handedly, Professor John Gyapong, Director, Health Research Unit, Ghana Health Service, noted on Thursday.
Speaking at the West African Tobacco Control workshop in Accra, he said the fight needed the support of all sectors in eliminating the false images that had been associated with its use.
Prof. Gyapong said Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) could assume an active role in the fight but it needed a political and legal backing to make it binding and effective.
The workshop organised by the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) and hosted by Ghana Coalition of NGOs Against Tobacco brought together 35 participants from Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Gambia and Sierra Leone to build capacity of NGOs to advocate the ratification and implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
The Ghana Health Service (GHS), Prof. Gyapong said, had taken the lead in ensuring that NGOs served on the Policy and Strategy Advisory Board Committees while others worked in communities on awareness creation.
Prof. Gyapong said this was because tobacco was the leading cause of death in the world, killing more than five million people annually, adding that if current trends continued it was projected to kill 10 million per year by 2020 with 70 per cent of those deaths occurring in developing countries.
The figures suggest that about 500 million people living today may eventually be killed by tobacco if they maintained usage.
Ghana is one of the 40 countries that have ratified FCTC, which became an international law on February 25, 2005.
The Project Director of FCA, Alison Cox said the Framework Convention (FC) was aimed at protecting the present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
She said Global commitment to achieve change had been clearly demonstrated with the framework being one
of the most rapidly adopted treaties signed in June 2004. As of October 1, 2007 the WHO FCTC had 150 parties representing 80 per cent of the world's population.
The great challenge now, Ms Cox noted, was to bring the last remaining eligible countries to ratify the treaty and also see it through paper to life through enabling legislature and eventual enforcement.
Mr Emmanuel Agyarko, Chief Executive of Food and Drugs Board (FDB), who chaired the function, said the voice of the consumer needed to be heard and his attention continually drawn to the negative effects of smoking.
He expressed the hope that the bill to back tobacco control in the country would be passed as soon as possible.

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