Developing Countries to Receive Extra Support for Tobacco Control

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Barnabas Thondhlana

Developing countries will receive dedicated support to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), the best instrument to ensure tobacco control worldwide that has 179 countries plus the European Union as its Parties.

Through the new project, to be delivered by the WHO FCTC Secretariat in collaboration with UNDP and other partners, a number of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) will be eligible to receive direct support to implement tobacco control strategies and policies. The project will bring together support from across the UN to accelerate the implementation of the Convention.

In promoting the new project, the Head of the FCTC Secretariat Dr Vera Luiza da Costa e Silva said: “The implementation of the WHO FCTC is critical in advancing sustainable development. Through the new project, we will take implementation of the WHO FCTC to a new level by providing support and guidance to developing country Parties.”

If current tobacco use patterns persist, tobacco will kill about 1 billion people in the 21st Century.  By 2030, over 80 percent of the world’s tobacco-related mortality will be in LMICs. The treaty is an evidence-based “blueprint” for tobacco control policies.  Tobacco use will be reduced if a country has a high level of WHO FCTC implementation.  

The significant harms of tobacco use on developing countries are usually understood primarily as health issue. This overlooks the extensive impact of tobacco on social, economic and environmental progress. Tobacco control is a development issue and its success relies on the work of other sectors such as commerce, trade, finance, justice and education.  This is why the international community agreed to include the implementation of the WHO FCTC in the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Douglas Webb, Team Leader on Health and Innovative Financing at the UN Development Programme, also welcomed the project: “There is a growing recognition that current tobacco trends and sustainable development cannot coexist. As a committed partner, UNDP welcomes this opportunity to advance tobacco control through better support to national planning, good governance and protection against tobacco industry interference in policy making.”

Countries will be offered support to create and strengthen coordination mechanisms and action across sectors to implement the WHO FCTC, including treaty obligations to ban tobacco advertising and promotion, ensure tobacco packaging has health warnings, end smoking in enclosed public and workplaces, increase tobacco taxes and protect public health policies from tobacco industry interference.

The five-year project will open call for expressions of interest inviting LMIC governments wishing to join implementation from 2017.

The project will be delivered with the generous development funding from the United Kingdom.  

Full implementation of the WHO FCTC in low- and middle-income countries is impeded without the integration of tobacco control into broader development agendas such as food and water security, environment, the right to education and human rights.

Joint UN work at country level has also revealed a demand from Parties to the Convention for support in a number of areas related to social and economic development. Examples include enunciating the investment case for putting in place the most efficient tobacco control measures, analyses of the institutional arrangement and capacities  for tobacco control, country-specific plans for increasing non-health sector engagement and protecting the primacy of health policies in sustainable development agendas. 

Although well represented with two targets under Sustainable Development Goal 3 on health and wellbeing (reduction by one-third of premature mortality from NCDs and full implementation of the WHO FCTC), the overall success of Agenda 2030 depends on successful tobacco control – and thus integrating tobacco control into the other SDGs and their targets.

The activities in this project are drawn together by a recognition that the most effective mechanism for mitigating the health and development impacts of tobacco consumption is ensuring that countries get tobacco control governance right. 

The project aims to help countries set national priorities, scale-up effective investments, strengthen policy coherence, and develop institutional capacities for whole-of-government tobacco control efforts.





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