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Nouakchott; March, 24, 2017

Members of Parliament in Mauritania are convening in the capital of Nouakchott to review the country’s tobacco control status and discuss strategies for controlling the effects of tobacco use. 

In an advocacy meeting by CTCA, the members were informed that passing a comprehensive tobacco control legislation provides a conducive framework for implementing all the proven interventions, thus making it a critical step. 

Mauritania signed and ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in October 2005. Accordingly, the Ministry of Health, with support from CTCA drafted and submitted a Tobacco Control Bill to Parliament in 2013, and it has not been discussed since then. 

Speaking to the legislators, the WHO Country Representative, Dr. Zombre, challenged them to do everything in their power to ensure that the Tobacco control Bill is passed into law. He informed them that while Mauritania signed and ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2005, it is the only country which has not domesticated the convention among its neighbors despite the high prevalence of young smokers which stands at 22%. 

The CTCA Manager, Dr. Jim Arinaitwe cautioned that while Africa had been characterized by the communicable diseases, the trend is now moving to none communicable diseases, exposing the continent to a double epidemic which we cannot afford to have.  He added that the best way to control communicable diseases is by controlling the risk factors, of which tobacco is key.  Dr. Arinaitwe therefore urged the legislators to pass the law expeditiously so as to provide a framework for players to implement tobacco control effectively and minimize the effects of tobacco use. He stressed the need for main streaming tobacco control in all sectors including poverty alleviation, education, gender, youth and all the other public health programs.  

The President of the Deputies in Parliament Dr Ahmed Seyid thanked CTCA for their work in Mauritania and assured them of Parliament’s support once the law is submitted to parliament. He called upon the Ministries of Health and Communications to fast track the process and ensure that the Bill is brought to Parliament as soon as possible. 

The Secretary General of the Ministry of Health Mr Ahmed Sid`Ahmed emphasized that the Government of Mauritania is committed to supporting tobacco control interventions as indicated by the signing and ratification of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, ( FCTC).   

The legislators on their part pledged to champion the tobacco control cause in general and to support the passing of the Bill, but urged the Executive arm of government to submit the law to parliament as soon as possible.  

Mauritania has a high prevalence of tobacco use, with the number of adult smokers standing at 18% while that of youth smokers stands at 22%. The Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa is currently on a mission in the country to fast track the bill enactment process and devise support for the same among the media fraternity and other key stakeholders. The week long mission involved an orientation of journalists, tobacco control stakeholders from various government departments, as well as members of the legislature to gunner all round support for the enactment of the Bill.