health and social welfare ministry and partners have launched the country’s National
Tobacco Control Committee at a two-day forum at Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.
The committee, which comprises members from different walks of life, is being funded from the Center for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA).
Health minister Saffie Lowe-Ceesay declared that in The Gambia, tobacco use directly or indirectly constitutes the most significant risk factor for non-communicable diseases, including cancer and diabetes. “These diseases complications place an unnecessary high burden on the meager resources of the health sector.”
She said despite the complications, the prevalence rate of smoking in The Gambia still remains high, particularly among males and adolescents, saying reducing smoking prevalence is a key factor in improving peoples’ health and reducing health inequalities in the country.
Minister Lowe-Ceesay said the forum and the inauguration of the committee will help in the effective implementation of the 2016 Tobacco Control Act, saying much has been achieved in tobacco control measures in The Gambia but much still needs to be done. “There is need for full implementation of the Act,” she said.
She said since the prevention and control of tobacco use is beyond the purview of a single entity, the ministry recognises the need and support from sectors to actively involve and participate in the fight against tobacco use. “The 2016 National Tobacco Control Act provides a range of evidence-based strategies including formation of the national tobacco control committee to improve effective and efficient tobacco control measures in the country.”
Kellen Nyamurengi Namusisi requested health ministry’s support to the committee by providing them with an environment where they can function whilst calling for a 5% tax levy on tobacco control implementation.
Dr. Desta Tiruneh, WHO country representative commended The Gambia for the strong political commitment it dedicated to tobacco control which, he said has been the catalyst for all the achievements registered in tobacco control in the country.