Accra, 31 May 2017 - The World Health Organization (WHO) office in Ghana in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service and Foods and Drugs Authority launched the Smoking Cessation Clinical Guidelines for Ghana and Tobacco Control Regulations, LI 2247 during the national launch of World No Tobacco Day celebrations in Ghana. The occasion also saw the presentation of the 2017 World No Tobacco Day, Director-General’s Awards to Mrs Olivia Agyekumwaa Boateng, Head of Tobacco and Substance Abuse, Foods and Drugs Authority.
In her keynote address, Mrs Tina Mensah, the Deputy Health Minister, who launched the LI and the Smoking Cessation Guidelines, said the Ministry had tasked itself to strengthen health polices especially those related to tobacco, and would ensure that they were included among the key policies on its agenda.
The Ministry, she said, would also put in place a proper monitoring mechanism to observe the progress being made in the control of the use of such a harmful drug. She said that the Day, which was on the theme: “Tobacco-a threat to development,” was to raise awareness on health and additional risks and dangers associated with the use and exposure to the smoke from tobacco.
Mrs Mensah indicated that the Ministry’s decision to control tobacco use was in pursuance of the Sustainable Development Goal 3, which talked about ensuring healthy life and promoting the well-being of individuals worldwide. According to her tobacco was a harmful substance which did not only have health implications on its victims, but also put posed a heavy economic burden on the government and the nation as a whole, and also led to the elimination of the working class of a country.
She explained that the target group of tobacco producing industries were mostly young men and women in the developing countries especially Africa, saying available statistics showed that in Ghana one in 20 of every junior high school students used tobacco, hence the need to raise awareness on the harmful use of the substance.
Mrs Delese A Darko, the Chief Executive Officer of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) said her outfit was committed to creating a “Tobacco Free Society” and would continue to support individuals, communities and government to take up the responsibility of preventing the use of tobacco in Ghana hence the creation of the LI.
Throwing more light on the LI, Mrs Darko said the LI 2247 required that individuals and industries who would want to go into the sale of the tobacco had to secure the legal documentation from the FDA before they could commence business.
The LI, she said, also prohibited the advertisement of tobacco or related substance, and barred industries from providing any forms of sponsorships for programmes, especially those involving tertiary students.
She said the document spelled out how packaging, labelling and health warnings of tobacco substances should be carried out, as well as the places where these substances could be sold.
Aside this regulation the FDA would continue to sensitise the public on the substance as well as meet and train target groups such as hotels, schools, and transport service stations, she said.
She argued that every individual had the right to a smoke-free environment; hence the FDA would improve collaboration with stakeholders including the MOH, GHS, World Health Organisation and CSOs to help in the fight against Tobacco use.
Speaking at the Function, the Country Representative for WHO, Dr Owen Kaluwa, said the year’s theme stemmed from the fact that tobacco posed a major barrier to sustainable development, with widespread impact on health, poverty, global hunger, economic growth, gender equality, environment, education, finance as well as governance.
He said the strengthening of key policy measures for the control of illicit trade in tobacco and its products, as well as increased support for other economically viable alternative crop production as part of an effective and comprehensive strategy to restrict youth access was crucial for the achievement of the SDGs. He said tobacco control was seen as one of the most effective means to achieve the SDG target 3.4, of achieving one-third reduction by 2030, of premature deaths from non-communicable diseases, and also a unique and cost-effective solution to the numerous challenges posed in areas including health, labour, agriculture, and trade. According to him, for the African Region, the cost of healthcare from tobacco smoking was 3.5 per cent of the total health expenditure each year, but apart from the heavy economic burden that tobacco use imposes on the nation and decreased productivity, it worsened health inequalities and exacerbated poverty, as the poorest people sent less on essentials like food, education and health care.
The tobacco industry, he said, was increasingly targeting women and girls, who often worked on the farms, while children of families who cultivated the drug, were involved in child labour, exposing them to green tobacco sickness and health hazards from pesticides, smoke and the inhalation of its dust.
Dr Kaluwa mentioned that he was particularly pleased that the Smoking Cessation Guidelines was being launched today and urged individuals to help make a sustainable, tobacco-free world, either by never using tobacco products, or by quitting the habit.
Dr Kyei- Faried, a Director and the Focal Point at the Tobacco Control Unit of the Ghana Health Service, said the theme was a step in the right direction since the country was aiming to attaining the SDG Three, which seeks to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for, all at all ages.
He said his outfit would embark on a massive education and sensitisation campaign as well as join in a Global Youth Tobacco Survey to find out smoking habits among students in order to put proper measures in place to curb it, and further mount pressure on the government to increase taxes on tobacco products in order to reduce its demand.
He said a number of initiatives and interventions including the ban of smoking in public places were already in place, whereas education and awareness creation were still on-going to ensure attitudinal change.
There were solidarity messages from Vision for Alternate Development (VALD), a CSO working in the area of Tobacco Control in Ghana.
1. Dr Kyei-Faried giving updates on Tobacco Control efforts in Ghana
2. Participants at the Function
3. Mrs Delese Darko, CEO of the Foods and Drugs Authority making a presentation on Tobacco Regulations LI 2247
4. Country Representative, Dr Owen Kaluwa reading his speech at the Function
5. Deputy Minister for Health, Mrs Tina Mensah delivering her keynote address
7. The Deputy Minister for Health, Mrs Tina Mensah and the WHO Country Representative, Dr Owen Kaluwa officially launching the Smoking Cessation Clinical Guidelines for Ghana. This wasdone during the National launch of the World No Tobacco Day Celebrations
8. The head of Tobacco and Substance Abuse of the Foods and Drugs Authority, Mrs Olivia Agyekumwaa Boateng also won the Director General’s WNTD Awards for her outstanding contribution to Tobacco Control in Ghana