Stakeholders attending the 3rd Pan-African Capacity Development Forum ( ACDF) in Harare, Zimbabwe have been cautioned to invest in capacity for tobacco control as one of the priorities for the social economic transformation for Africa.
This was during aside event organized by the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa ( CTCA), May 4th, during the 3rd ACDF that also marked ACBF’s silver anniversary. The session was moderated by Dr. Roger Atindehou, the Manager Operations at the ACBF.
Presenting a paper on ‘Investing in Tobacco Control capacity for Africa, the Centre Director also Dean of the School of Public Health, Prof. William Bazeyo warned that Africa is poised to become the future epi-centre of the tobacco epidemic if nothing is done to invest tobacco control capacity. He stressed that with the high burden of communicable diseases that Africa is faced with, lack of control of the non-communicable diseases, to which tobacco is a key risk factor, would water down the efforts in the communicable diseases and lead to a double tragedy.
Prof. Bazeyo revealed that although Africa is at the early stages of the tobacco epidemic,
researchers estimate that if African countries put appropriate policies in place, the region could avoid 139 million premature deaths by 2100. This he emphasised, can best be achieved through investing in tobacco control capacity.
Mr. Deowan Mohee from ATCA who was one of the panelists said one of the biggest capacity gaps for tobacco control in Africa is the dependency of donor funding which he said may not always respond to the real needs of the African continent. He urged partners to invest in building capacity for resource mobilization for tobacco control as a strategy for attaining a tobacco free Africa.
Ms. Ema Wanyonyi from Kenya’s International Legislative Association ( ILA) emphasized the need for mainstreaming tobacco control in other public health programs adding that tobacco being a cross cutting factor needs concerted efforts to minimize its effects.
The stakeholders who attended the side event in big numbers stressed the need to control the activities of the tobacco industry and to empower governments to implement both demand and supply reduction interventions identified by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Participants specifically cited the need for countries to build capacity to control illicit trade of tobacco products as well as capacity to support countries develop and implement alternative livelihood policies for tobacco farmers. Tobacco taxation was also discussed a key measure that countries need to adopt it not only reduces consumption, but also enables governments to get the much needed money to treat tobacco related illnesses and diseases.