#EndTobacco is an essential part of the bedrock for Universal Health Coverage
SHOBHA SHUKLA, BOBBY RAMAKANT - CNS
Declaration endorsed by several Mayors of cities in Asia Pacific region to prioritise united actions on health with One Health approach
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Can we deliver on the promise of health for all unless we fix the gaping and widening punctures that are causing epidemic-proportion of preventable diseases and untimely deaths? No one needs to suffer from preventable illnesses or die from curable diseases. Tobacco use kills over 8 million people worldwide every year. While 'Big Tobacco' industries become richer, it is the governments and the people worldwide who are not only dealing with mountainous health crises but also becoming more vulnerable to fritter away whatever progress they have been able to make towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and targets.
That is why in lead up to 2021 Universal Health Coverage Day, Mayors of several cities across the Asia and the Pacific region, met at the 6th Summit of the Asia Pacific Cities Alliance for Health and Development (6th APCAT Summit), and called for integrated and equitable health responses, stronger action against tobacco, preventing non-communicable diseases, and protecting lung health.
The Mayors, and other delegates of 6th APCAT Summit endorsed the Declaration which commits subnational leaders for stronger action for advancing tobacco control, preventing non-communicable diseases, leveraging synergies between Covid response and other health and development responses, and firewalling health and development policies and programmes from industry interferences. Moreover, it highlights the needs of sustaining routine vaccination programmes, TB control and preventing mother to child transmission of viral hepatitis during pandemic to prevent a secondary health crisis.
"I ensured tobacco control activities continued during the pandemic as those who suffered severe Covid disease have been heavy smokers as well. Stopping smoking is part of Covid prevention protocol campaign in Bogor City" said Dr Bima Arya Sugiarto, Mayor of Bogor City in Indonesia, and co-Chair of APCAT. "Tobacco control is an issue that requires multisectoral cooperation" said Francis A Garcia, Mayor of Balanga City in Philippines, and co-Chair of APCAT. That is why Mayors and other subnational leaders who are best placed to synergise multisectoral response locally for advancing tobacco control and prevention of non-communicable diseases, have united as APCAT. As of now "subnational leaders of 78 cities from 12 countries in Asia Pacific region form APCAT".
Over 180 countries worldwide have ratified the global tobacco treaty (formally called the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). Article 5.3 of the treaty is a legally binding promise to stop tobacco industry interference in health policy. "During Covid pandemic, the tobacco industry tried to intensify their corporate social responsibility campaigns and build relationships with the government. Countries need to incorporate the Article 5.3 of the FCTC into their domestic laws in order to prohibit influence of tobacco companies over tobacco control policies making" rightly said Dr Gan Quan, Director for Tobacco Control, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union).
"Health is a political choice that should ensure leadership, accountability and sustainability for the effective implementation of public health policies and programmes and prevent current and future pandemics", said Dr Tara Singh Bam, Asia Pacific Director of The Union.
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