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"5M People Die Unnecessarily Each Year Owing to Tobacco Use" - WHO Rep.

Jul 20, 2009, 6:39 AM | Article By: Sainey M.K. Marenah

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative to The Gambia, Dr. Thomas Sekwu has disclosed that about five million people unnecessarily die each year globally as a result of tobacco use. He added that the untold sufferings and discomfort tobacco causes are numerous and increase day by day.

This statement was read on his behalf by Mr. Momadou Kassama, Health and Promotion Officer at the WHO Country Office, at the occasion marking the handing over of World No Tobacco Day award to Latrikunda Upper Basic School, last Friday at the school's ground.

"Devastatingly the majority of tabacco victims are adults who are the breadwinners and engine for economic growth in our respective countries," he said.

He added that the majority start smoking when they are young. He maintained that young people are prime targets of tobacco companies that go at length in deceiving them to indulge in tobacco use.

He explained further that these companies have misled many and try to entangle many others into believing that tobacco use is a glamorous act.

Dr. Thomas Sewku, however, told the gathering that there are thirty recipients of this year's award, out of which 193 are member states of WHO in the world in 2009, adding that only six of these come from 46 African WHO countries in the African region.

LK School, he said, has demonstrated to The Gambia at large that it is an institution ready to fight against the menace of tobacco, with all the might at its disposal.

The WHO Rep also informed the gathering that, according to preliminary results of a countrywide study in 2007, by WHO in collaboration with IOGT, about 24% of school children aged 13-15 years (Grade 6-8) ever smoked cigarette. The same study showed no significant differences in smoking between boys 28.1% and girls 20.3%, out of the 1959 students studied.

Speaking earlier on behalf of the Hon. Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Mrs. Fatou Lamin Faye, Mr. Omar Jatta, the Principal Education Officer at Region I, noted that the event is yet another demonstration of the cordial relations between the two sectors, saying that it was indeed a very big achievement of which her ministry was much proud.

The Education Minister reminded the gathering that the award clearly sends a message that the education system is indeed responsive to the health needs of its users.

Madam Faye noted that, her ministry resolves as an institution to attain the mental, psychological and the overall health and well-being of the students as enshrined in the education policy cannot be realised in the isolation of the health sector. She commended the WHO for the excellent collaboration they have enjoyed over the years in different spheres of health and education, while saying that these are happening because they share the same vision and goal.