Uganda Emerges Best Tobacco Control Champion In AfricaACTA
The adage hard work pays has been fulfilled with the pearl of Africa – Uganda, after being announced as the best country on the African continent, which is undoubtedly pushing the tobacco industry against the wall.
Uganda has been branded as the best tobacco control champion. This thrilling news was revealed during the virtual launch of the African Tobacco Industry Interference Index which took place today.
The index carried out in 2021 by The African Tobacco Control Alliance ATCA), aimed at monitoring how much Africa has so far done and how Governments protect policies about tobacco industry interference .
Affirming to Uganda’s endless efforts towards fighting against tobacco use, Dr. Mary Assunta who is the Head of Global Centre for Good Governance in Tobacco Control(GGTC), applauded Uganda for setting a positive pace to the rest of the African countries in the firght against tobacco use on the continent.
“I highly commend Uganda for the job weldone so far. This survey has proven that Uganda is the leading champion in the fight against tobacco use in Africa,” commended DR. Assunta.
She adds, ” Uganda has equally been able to remain among the to top five best performing countries in the struggle against tobacco for a while now, and these efforts cannot be taken for granted,”.
The survey being the first of its kind, sampled 14 countries, but there are plans to bring on board more countries the next time it takes place.
Dr. Hafsa Lukwata is the Tobacco Control Forcal Point person in Uganda. She attributed Uganda’s achievement to a couple of factors, among which is the spirit of teamwork between the Ministry of Health and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) which include Uganda Health Communication Alliance (UHCA) , Uganda National Health Consumers Organisation (UNHCO), among others. CSOs constantly look out for any breaches of the law.
Dr. Lukwata, equally confirms that “there has been a consistency in observing article 5.3 in the Tobacco Control Law, which spells out that it is the duty of the Government to protect citizens against the tobacco industry, “
The same article stipulates that the tobacco industry should not be given any incentives whatsoever, and the need for transparency from Government when dealing with the industry.
Dr. Lukwata equally reveals that the country has a strong coordination mechanism. “For example, we have a tobacco control committee who are equally ambassadors of tobacco control, not mentioning engaging in regular monitoring meetings,”
The index ranked Kenya in the second position, followed by Garbon, with Zambia emerging as the worst performing, followed by Tanzania.
Leonce SESSOU, the executive secretary of The African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA), blames the poor performance of Zambia,Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa, on the high levels of interference from the tobacco industry.
” We commend countries like Uganda, Kenya and Gabon for excelling in the index, and encourage countries like Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa to put in alot more effort and commitment to curb industry Interference in their health policies, “
Leonce who couldnot hide his disappointment further explains that, the index displayed high deteriorating levels of performance from Ethiopian, South Africa and Nigeria , citing the tobacco industry using Corvid 19 as a trap to corner these countries.
“The industry exploited the situation of the outbreak of Corvid 19 and gave out handouts to these countries. They termed it as Corporate Social Responsibility, yet they only intended to tighten their grip on these unsuspecting countries, “
During the launch, tobacco control stakeholders agreed that all countries should ban any tobacco related incentives, charity or handouts during the corvid 19 pandemic. All governments in Africa have been urged to exercise transparency and stop dealing with the tobacco industry behind doors.
Source: The Little Bettina