Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Activists involved in tobacco control are calling upon African governments to fund scientific research aimed at eliminating the use of tobacco-related products.
The call was made on Tuesday during the first Africa Conference on Tobacco Control and Development.
According to the scientists, while many countries have ratified the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention Tobacco Control that is supposed to reduce the use of tobacco products in the world, research shows that smoking is set to increase on the African continent by more than 10 percent.
The 2018, World Health Organisation-WHO Global Report on Trends in Prevalence of Tobacco Smoking 2020-2025, indicates that by 2025, the number of adult males and females on average smoking nationwide will stand at 6.75 percent from 5.55 percent in 2020.
To stop this from happening, activists are proposing a shift. Instead of relying on high taxation policies on tobacco products, labelling, glaring graphics showing the effects of smoking and national laws, activists want to use research.
The research according to the activists is supposed to guide the development of policies tailor-made for Africa that will lead address the burden of NCDs caused by the use of tobacco.
Prof William Bazeyo, the Director of the Center for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA) and the chairman of the conference said due to the rising burden of diseases associated with the use of tobacco, a multi-sectorial approach guided by research is needed.
“Alarming statistics indicate that we are not winning the war against preventable diseases due to tobacco use in Africa. Behind every preventable illness and death that is caused by tobacco are families whose breadwinners are taken away. The combined cost to national healthcare budgets is manifold. Now is the time for African researchers, policymakers, development partners and communities to unite in joint action for tobacco control,” Prof Bazeyo said.
The assistant commissioner in charge of mental health at the health ministry, Dr Hafsa Lukwata said at the moment, very few policies supposed to control the use of tobacco are made using research.
“At the moment research is the missing link. There’s a little emphasis put into carrying it out at the moment to feed our policies but we need it. Getting evidence-based solutions through research carried out in communities can go a long way in fusing out policies,” she said.