The WHO Country Representative to Uganda, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu has commended the able leadership of the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa ( CTCA) , under Makerere University School of Public Health ( MakSPH), as well as the Tobacco Control technical expertise generated at the Centre to support countries.
The WR was on Tuesday afternoon visiting the Centre Premises in Kasangati, where he interacted with the staff of the Centre.
Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu stressed that he is supportive of the cause of the Centre, adding that he will personally support the TC bill and policy in Uganda, and will use all available fora and WHO networks like WRs to promote the Centre.
He pledged WHO’s continued commitment to providing technical assistance to the Centre and countries, as long as the assistance is sought.
The Dean of Makerere University School of Public Health, who is also the Centre Director, Prof. William Bazeyo hailed the WR for his commitment as exhibited by his full participation in the activities of WNTD, May 31, despite the fact that he had just taken over the office. Prof. Bazeyo thanked WHO for considering Makerere University to host the centre, adding that this has enabled MakSPH, where the Centre is based, to encourage students to carry out TC research. He said MakSPH has also been able to incorporate TC Research in the seven schools of Public Health that fall under the Health Alliance of East and Central Africa through a research grant from IDRC.
The Dean also hailed the strong spirit of partnership exhibited by WHO through the technical assistance and guidance which has empowered the Centre to acquire the necessary tobacco control technical expertise. He noted that the Centre is in its final year of operation for the first phase of the Project, and requested the WR to partner with the CTCA, at an appropriate time, to select countries that are ready and willing to work with the Centre.
The Manager of the Centre, Dr. Possy Mugyenyi gave a general overview of the Centre’s activities and achievements since inception. He said the Centre has been able to raise the profile of tobacco control particularly in its five target countries, and to develop TC technical tools to assist countries meet their FCT obligations. Dr. Mugyenyi specifically highlighted the technical assistance given to countries like Uganda and Mauritania to develop the TC bill, while in Kenya, the Centre has supported the development of Pictorial Health Warnings. CTCA has also, in conjunction with WHO and countries, supported Capacity Assessments in Angola and Mauritania, initiated a coordination mechanism for Uganda, which should be duplicated in other countries, and pitched Health Development Partners in Uganda to integrate TC in their agenda.
Dr. Mugyenyi noted that the Centre has established that mainstreaming TC in other programs is one of the key strategies for sustaining tobacco control activities, adding that this is an area which the Centre would like to promote. In terms of future activities, the Manager said that the Centre will soon undertake a health cost study for Uganda that will help to generate local evidence on the health economic burden of tobacco in Africa.
CTCA was established by the World Health Organization ( WHO) in 2011, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Its mandate is to support governments in Africa to develop tobacco control policies and legislation as well as build and sustain institutional capacity for tobacco control. It is hosted by Makerere University School of Public Health, and initially focuses on five target countries including Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Angola and Mauritania.