Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Tobacco

SIMON MUNTEMBA writes

@SunZambian

TOBBACCO use is estimated to kill over 7,100 people every year in Zambia, says the founding president of Zambia Heart and Stroke Foundation (ZAHESFO) Professor Fastone Goma.

And Prof Goma has appealed to the Zambian government to expedite the formulation and enactment of the law that will exploit loopholes and policy gaps in tobacco control.

Prof Goma reiterated that tobacco use was a major risk factor for non-communicable disease (NCD) epidemic in Zambia.

He said non-communicable disease were the leading cause of death in Zambia where they accounted for close to 25 percent of all deaths.

“Tobacco use is the major driver of NCD epidemic, by directly causing or exacerbating the major NDCs such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes,” Prof Goma.

In Zambia, he said, tobacco is estimated to kill 7,142 people every year, causing the loss of 116,427 healthy years of life and 60 percent of these deaths are among individuals less than 70 years of age.

The ZAHESFO president also said the use of tobacco was detrimental to socio-economic development of Zambia.

He explained that the use of tobacco was a serious threat to economic growth in that recently, UNDP led team of experts estimated that tobacco costs the Zambian economy K2.8 billion (equivalent to 1.2 % GDP) per year.

He said the costs included healthcare expenditure, lost productive capacities due to an unhealthy labour force which succumb to premature death, among other costs.

Prof Goma added that tobacco use exacerbates poverty as the direct costs of healthcare for the treatment of tobacco-related illness could impose significant out-of-pocket expenses for the poor families.

However, Prof Goma said investing in tobacco control was pivotal to achieving poverty reduction and economic growth, as well as to countering the NCD epidemic.

He has since called on the government to expedite the formulation and enactment of the law that will exploit loopholes and policy gaps in tobacco control.

“We, the Zambia Tobacco control consortium, have been advocating for the domestication of the Tobacco Control Bill since 2009 and have witnessed several frustrations in the process.

“We therefore demand that the implementation of Article 5.3 of the World Health Organization (WHO) be expedited which seeks to protect tobacco control policies from tobacco industry interference,” he said.

He explained that the WHO Article 5.3 states in setting and their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of tobacco industry in accordance with national law.

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