By Austin Erameh
There are indications that tobacco consumption could be a major contributory factor to cancer, cardiovascular ailments and other diseases.
These hints were given by Okeke Anya, Programme Manager (Democratic Governance), CISLAC, while presenting the priorities and challenges for advancing the WHO FCTC in Nigeria’s Public Health Systems at the recently concluded 17th World Conference on ‘Tobacco Or Health’ held in Cape Town, South Africa.
He said a recent study conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), a coordinating ministry for the implementation of the National Tobacco Control Act, 2015, to ascertain the implementation progress of the Act across eight selected Public Health Institutions in the Federal Capital Territory, reveals that no fewer than 75% of the respondents had come in contact with a patient whom had been diagnosed with cancer, cardiovascular ailment and other related diseases with 71% of them linking tobacco consumption to cancer, cardiovascular ailments and other diseases.
According to the Programme Manager, while the study shows that men are in the majority of such diagnosed patients, patients and accompanying individuals showed little or no awareness of the linkage between ailments and tobacco use.
Anya bemoaned inadequate knowledge and awareness of the existence of tobacco control law and its poor application in counselling or educating patients or accompanying individuals within the institutions, calling for massive awareness creation on the provision of the law to mitigate the incidence of cancer, cardiovascular ailments and other related diseases.
“It is believed that proper awareness creation could help reduce the incidence of cancer, cardiovascular ailment(s) and other related diseases. A whopping 90% of the respondents agree that awareness is necessary,” he added.
A representative of the World Bank Group, Patricio Marquez, advised that taxation as contained in WHO FCTC should be leveraged on as a major point in the overall Tobacco Control engagement, while encouraging the delegates to sustain the advocacy to national governments.
Also, Dr. Nnnena Ezeigwe, the National Coordinator of the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) Division, Federal Ministry of Health, explained that the Federal Ministry of Health had experienced some challenges in the past that limited the activities of the ministry in actively engaging in the area of Tobacco Control.
She added that the ministry has, since the signing the Act into law in 2015, commenced the implementation of nine (9) provisions as announced by the Honourable Minster in 2017 which have further contributed to implementation of the Act with increased demonstration of governments’ willingness to operationalize WHO-FCTC.
Mr Stephen Medaiyedo, Deputy Director Tax Policy, Federal Ministry of Finance, announced a proposed plan by the Federal Government to review tobacco tax upward through newly approved amendment to the excise duty rates.
He stressed that the new tax regime constituted a holistic measure to discourage consumption of tobacco products and mitigate the devastating health, social and economic impact of tobacco use on the citizens and its growing burdens on limited and already overstretched public resources.