The Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation (WHO) last week met various stakeholders to discuss the domestication of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
The meeting took place on Monday and Tuesday at Victoria Hotel and brainstormed on how the Bill should look before it is submitted for approval by Senate.
The Ministry of Health Director-General, Dr Nyane Letsie, told the meeting that tobacco was the only product if used as prescribed by the manufacturer, still causes death.
Dr Letsie said what prompted the ministry to act was because tobacco is estimated to kill one of every two users, making it a danger to society.
“No other risk factor carries such high mortality rate. Without comprehensive tobacco prevention and control policies, it is estimated that the smoking prevalence in Africa will increase by nearly 39 percent by 2030, from 1.58 percent in 2010 to 21.9 percent. Increased prevalence combined with sustained economic growth and changing population dynamics could drive tobacco consumption in Africa to double within the next ten years. Lesotho is under the similar struggle,” Dr Letsie said.
“The WHO Global report of 2012 on mortality attributable to tobacco also reveals that tobacco was responsible for all NCDs, heart disease accounted for 156 deaths in 100 000, 4 percent attributed to tobacco, cancer-trachea, bronchus and lung cancer 62 percent of these deaths attributable to tobacco,” she said.
She said the figures indicate that tobacco use is already killing Basotho and will continue to rise unless control is enforced.
“Lesotho is therefore currently in the preliminary stages of the legislative process of Tobacco Control Bill, the Ministry of law is yet to seek clearance by the Attorney General to have the Tobacco Control Bill 2015, it means we have merely started with the regulatory framework and legislative intervention while there is the need for implementation of tobacco control programs.”
According to the Ministry of Health Legal Advisor Advocate Mookho Moqhali Lesotho ratified the FCTC in 2005 and only obtained the Cabinet approval in 2014 hence now working on the tobacco control bill 2015. Advocate Moqhali said this marked the political will in the plight against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
“The law once is completed is meant to control the manufacturing, distribution constituents, types and sales of tobacco products, Promote education and advocacy of the health hazards of tobacco use, Ban promotion, advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products and the Enforcement of smoke-free public places just to mention a few,” Advocate Moqhali said.
Advocate Moqhali said the objectives of the tobacco control bill of 2015 is mainly to protect persons from diseases, death and disability caused by tobacco as Lesotho is currently dealing with double burden of diseases with the mortality in NCDs gradually increasing.
Tobacco is found to be the cause of seven out of nine causes of death and diseases worldwide.
“With the bill will be able to educate the public on the dangers of tobacco use to human health, health consequences, addictives, nature and threats posed by tobacco consumption again to protect consumers from misleading addictives and inducements to use tobacco products,” Advocate Moqhali said.
She said with the stakeholders’ views and ideas the bill will then be implemented “because we know on our own we cannot achieve since the ministry of health understands need to know and understand where stakeholders stand on tobacco control.”
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