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In response to the tobacco use burden and its impacts, the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA) was established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) at Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

The Centre’s mandate is to support African governments to formulate and implement evidence based tobacco control policies and strategies. This is underpinned by the fact that the tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people worldwide each year which equates to 13,000 people dying per day (one death every 6 seconds). Of these, more than 600,000 are nonsmokers exposed to second-hand smoke, majority of whom are women and children.

In Africa the prevalence of tobacco use currently is on average 16.8% for adults and 27.5% for the youth (WHO, 2015) and is estimated to increase by nearly 39% by 2030 (Blecher et al., 2013). This situation is aggravated by aggressive marketing strategies by the Tobacco Industry mainly targeting the youth.

Tobacco use accounts for one in six of all Non Communicable Diseases deaths (NCDs); 71% of all lung cancer deaths, 42% of all chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 22% of cardiovascular diseases,12% of all lower respiratory infection deaths and 7% of all tuberculosis deaths (WHO, 2012). This demonstrates that tobacco use is more than a health problem. It exacerbates poverty with increased health expenditures for tobacco-related diseases, and causes reductions in household productivity due to tobacco related morbidity and mortality.

CTCA in collaboration with the University of Pretoria has convened 10 African governments and partners to harmonize tobacco control response approaches and strategies across the Region. The meeting objectives will include;

1) Agreement on an engagement model to tobacco control in Africa.

2) Proposing a standardized approach to tobacco control programming in Africa.

3) Decisions on tobacco control coordination and implementation networks in the region.

4) Formulation of a tobacco control research agenda for Africa.

This three day (Feb 13-15, 2017) meeting in Pretoria, South Africa brings together National Tobacco Control Focal Persons from the Ministries of Health and officials from relevant government departments drawn from CTCA’s target countries of Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Kenya, Mauritania, Niger, South Africa and Uganda. Additionally the meeting will be attended by tobacco control partners including; African Capacity Building Foundation ( ACBF), International Development Research Centre (IDRC), World Health Organization (WHO),The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung disease (The UNION) and draw experts from University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, Cooperative University of Kenya, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and National Council Against Smoking (NCAS).

The CTCA Africa Tobacco Control Meeting will be held annually and is in line with the Centre’s vision of being a sustainable Centre of excellence for empowering African governments to implement Tobacco Control. Further to the meeting objectives, this will be a forum to share experiences, best practices and accelerate tobacco control in the region towards the attainment of a Tobacco Free Africa, a right and duty for all.