International commitments are vital for a better tomorrow but no less important are local actions on the frontlines, for bringing in desired change. Most important and often unheard voices are of those who are striving hard to bring in a change on the frontlines. These voices from the grounds-up, need to be plugged in to those at national, regional and global levels who are driving bigger processes for a better tomorrow.
For instance, despite the World Health Organization (WHO) saying that the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than seven million people a year, we need local actions to translate evidence-based tobacco control policies into public health impact. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) like heart disease and stroke, cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, etc cause over 70% of deaths worldwide. While there are larger policy level changes and actions warranted, there is no excuse not to scale up well-coordinated responses on the ground to prevent NCDs.
With this intent, 3rd Summit of Asia Pacific Cities Alliance for Tobacco Control and NCDs prevention (AP-CAT) brought together over 100 local leaders from 30 cities in 12 countries of Asia Pacific region. Participants included Members of Parliaments (MPs), Mayors, Vice Mayors, Governor, Vice Governor, other local government officials, public health experts, among others.
Tobacco epidemic is preventable
Barrister Shameem Haider Patwary, Member of Parliament from Bangladesh said to CNS (Citizen News Service) in video interview (youtube.com/c/citizennewsorgcns) that when he attended the World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) in Mumbai, India (2009), the writing on the wall was clear: tobacco is the single largest preventable manmade epidemic. "Since it is preventable, then why are we not making every effort to prevent it?" he said.
"I have engaged in many litigations against tobacco companies" said Barrister Shameem Haider Patwary. He fought litigations against tobacco cultivation on the hill tracks, tobacco advertisement related issues, among others.
"When I came to politics, I created my own manifesto to work against tobacco and tobacco companies as a politician. I came to know that large number of youth are getting addicted to tobacco. Youth are also the key targets of tobacco companies to make youth their future [business] and lifelong customers" said Barrister Shameem Haider Patwary.
"Bangladesh is a country of 160 million people with children and youth who will be our future tomorrow. If we can make this world tobacco-free and beat NCDs, today's youth will be tomorrow's citizens of a healthy nation" rightly said Barrister Patwary.