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The first ever Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa was launched on November 1st 2011 at Kasangati Makerere University premises. The centre is hosted by Makerere University College of Health Sciences School of Public Health on behalf of a consortium comprising of Uganda Health Communication Alliance (UHCA) and Uganda National Association for Community and Occupational Health (UNACOH).
Presiding over the launch, the Speaker of Parliament, The Right Honourable Rebecca Kadaga informed the guests that government is already working on a Tobacco Control Bill, which has already been submitted to her office and will soon be presented for the First Reading. This is a remarkable achievement for a country; the assessment by the CTCA showed was far behind the rest of the countries in the region.
She thanked the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for the commitment to fight cancer in Africa, through a diverse range of partners.
Ms. Kadaga noted that many people who have no choice in the smoking matter are affected by secondary smokes and they should be protected.
The Minister of Health Dr. Christine Ondoa, said that nearly 80% of NCDs, for which tobacco is a major risk factor occur in Low and Middle Income Countries and in Uganda they account for 25% of all deaths.
She said that although there has been delayed implementation of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control Treaty, government is ready to rise to the challenge and ensure full implementation of all the enforceable articles of the Treaty.
Dr. Ondoa said the establishment of the Centre for Tobacco Control for Africa and its being hosted by Uganda is an opportunity; the government of Uganda should take advantage of.
The Vice Chancellor, Makerere University Professor Venansius Baryamureeba said that the College of Health Sciences, where the School of Public Health is located, has recorded tremendous breakthrough in research and is a renowned Centre of Excellence in research and teaching.
The WHO Country Representative, Dr. Joaquim Saweka noted that Africa is faced with a double burden of disease; Communicable and Non Communicable Diseases.
On the same occasion, a No Tobacco theme song sung by local music artists led by female rapper Keko was launched and showcased.
Tobacco is responsible for an estimated 6M deaths annually and it shortens life expectancy by 14 years.
The launch of the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA) was attended by people of diverse backgrounds; including policy makers, health workers, academics, civil society activists, students and pupils, community leaders, media practitioners, international development partners, donors and diplomats.
It was later followed by a No Tobacco Walk and a Guest Lecture entitled The Journey from the farm to the Lungs: Who Benefit? It wasdelivered by Professor Peter Odhiambo, the Chairman Kenya Tobacco Control Board.