AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS NEED TO ACCELERATE THEIR TOBACCO CONTROL EFFORTS

 

whodirector The Director WHO/Tobacco Free Initiative Dr. Douglas Bettcher has said that while five years ago Africa was more concerned with managing communicable diseases, today it is considered a priority region for tobacco control and the management of Non-Communicable Diseases. Dr. Bettcher was speaking at the opening of the first Annual Review Meeting for the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA). The CTCA was established in Uganda is June 2011 with technical support from WHO and funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Based in Uganda, the main mandate of the CTCA is to support governments in African countries to build and sustain institutional capacity for Tobacco Control. The Centre funded to the tune of $ 3.5 Million US Dollars, initially provides support to five African countries, namely; Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Mauritania and Angola. Dr. Bettcher said that the CTCA will need to work extra hard to create vibrant and sustainable partnerships in Africa. ÔÇ£By 2014, CTCA should be a WHO Collaborative Centre in AfricaÔÇØ, he said. The Director WHO Health Promotion regional Office for Africa, Dr. Tigest Ketsela said that WHO wished to develop the CTCA as a model for the establishment and implementation of similar centres in other parts of the world. She noted that the centre needs much more support from partners and governments to deliver more. The Representative of the WHO Uganda Country Representative, Dr. Miriam Nanyunja emphasised the capacity building element of the CTCA saying that this has been an area of concern all across Africa. She noted that health professionals still have a lot to contribute in the area of tobacco control. ÔÇ£As Public Health professionals, our work is to work hard to save the continent from the effects of tobacco. She thanked all partners that have accorded the CTCA support that has enabled it perform well in just a year of its establishment. The Dean, School of Public Health at the Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Associate Professor William Bazeyo noted that the centre was established with no model and example to study. He was happy to note that despite this gap, the CTCA has grown into a respectable and formidable centre attracting attention from countries that were not in the original plan. He pointed out that at the 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Singapore in March, there were not many stories coming from Africa. He pledged that the centre will document and share African tobacco control stories. The review is being attended by delegates from the Africa region as well as other countries where tobacco control and related work is being conducted.