Accra, June 15, GNA- Mr Yaw Brobbey-Mpiani, the Deputy Director (Administration) of the Ghana Health Service, has e– xpressed the need for stakeholders in health to harness their efforts in tobacco control in Africa.
He said there are subtle attempts by the tobacco industry to rely on International Trade Agreements (ITA), to thwart the implementation of World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
“The ITA contains clauses or provisions that allow the restriction of trade in the protection of human health. Such agreements are nevertheless oriented to successful trade exchange, often at the expense of tobacco control policies, legislation and broader public health initiatives.”
Mr Brobbey-Mpiani gave the advice at the opening of a three-day national workshop on International Trade and Investment Law, Tobacco Control and Health in Accra on Wednesday.
The workshop, which sponsored by the WHO drew participants from the Trade and Industry, Justice, Health Ministries as well as members of civil society organisations.
The staff of the WHO Africa Regional Office and the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer of Australia; provided technical support.
Topics like: “The WHO FCTC and the World Trade Organisation: Tobacco and The Global Trade Regime,” “International Trade and Investment Law: Case Studies and Implications for Health and Tobacco Control,” and “Implementing Pathways to Policy Coherence in Trade, Investment, Health and Tobacco at the Domestic Level” were discussed at the meeting.
It was aimed at building the capacity of the participants to draw a roadmap for comprehensive policy and law to confront challenges posed by tobacco industry.
Mr Brobbey-Mpiani said international trade liberalisation has frustrated the implementation of the WHO FCTC and had led to rapid expansion of trade in tobacco and its products.
“This had increased the consumption of tobacco across low and middle income countries like Ghana and has posed a major threat to public health,” he noted.
The Deputy Director entreated participants to accord the needed attention to the workshop so that they could collectively support tobacco control in Ghana in particular and the Africa Region in general.
Dr Ahmed E. Ogwell Ouma, the WHO Africa Regional Adviser on Tobacco Control presenting the topic on “The Burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in AFRO Region” said a time had come for Africa and Ghana as whole to make a strong case for financial support to address NCDs for sustainable development.
He said it is imperative to strengthen the capabilities of member states in the context of health, trade and investment laws to encourage them to contribute to the implementation of the WHO FCTC on tobacco in particular to fight the menace of public health.