NTA Report: Health Ministry Programs On Tobacco Use Underfunded

NTA Report: Health Ministry Programs On Tobacco Use Underfunded

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 8 – A recent report by the National Taxpayers Association says the Ministry of Health’s programmes involved in tobacco control are grossly underfunded, which means they cannot effectively fight the vice.

According to the study, the Tobacco Control Board and Division of Noncommunicable diseases (NCD), are consistently underfunded.

The survey showed that the two receive funding under the Preventive and Promotive Health Services Programme in the Ministry.

In the Finance Year 2019/20, the required budgetary allocation for the Preventive and Promotive Health Services programme was Sh16.14 billion but what was received was Sh11.22 billion, a shortfall of Sh4.9 billion.

“In the last three years, the share of non-communicable disease prevention and control sub-programme budget in the preventive and promotive health services programme has been below five per cent, accounting only two per cent in the finance year 2020/21,” the report shows.

“This implies that on average for every Sh100 revenue generated from the tobacco consumption at least Sh5 is used to address health and social outcomes brought about by consumption of the tobacco products,” it added.

The report examined the government spending on tobacco prevention and control to establish whether it meets the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended budget levels.

It presents the findings and analysis of tobacco taxation on tobacco use, public revenue, and its implications on health financing in Kenya.

It also provides policy recommendations to the government and informs advocacy for tobacco taxation for health financing.

Franciscah Marabu, NTA programmes officer, advised the government to compel tobacco companies to pay the solatium fund as required in the Tobacco Control Act.

“The government should explore the implementation of solatium compensatory funds from tobacco companies. The fund was supposed to be operationalized in Kenya as from 2021 but it is yet to be implemented,” said Marabu.

The solatium compensation fund is a contribution of two per cent of the value of the tobacco products sold. The government is required to spend the money on tobacco control research, cessation and rehabilitation programmes.

NTA National Coordinator Irene Otieno said reforming the tax structure by making it uniform would also raise more revenue, which should be channelled to health, and reduce tobacco consumption.

“Taxation on tobacco will contribute significantly to lower consumption of tobacco products which will safeguard any allocation of our taxes on Universal Health Care (UHC). Our expectation is that the Senate will protect the interest of their counties and support our initiative and increase taxation on tobacco,” she said.

It is estimated that the economic cost of smoking in Kenya amounts to Ksh2.98 billion annually, the report shows.

This includes direct costs related to healthcare expenditures and indirect costs related to lost productivity due to early mortality and morbidity.

“The health costs is a fundamental reason used to justify relatively high taxation of tobacco products,” the report adds.

Source: Capital Fm