Tobacco kills 5 700 in Malawi-report
CAPE TOWN-At the 17th World Conference on Tobacco Control held in Cape Town, South Africa, tobacco control experts continue to pile pressure on all countries, including Malawi to take stronger action in protecting public health by ratifying the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
Emma Wanyonyi, Director at the Kenyan based, International Institute for Legal Affairs says that Malawi’s policy makers need to move quickly to ratify the FCTC as this is important to save lives of people who smoke and those exposed to second hand smoke.
“The ratification of the WHO FCTC is possible for countries like Malawi. It is important to note that the FCTC provides alternatives to shift to more productive crops other than tobacco”, said Wanyonyi whose organization lobbies for an anti-tobacco free society.
The FCTC first became into force in 2003 and has 181 countries as parties who have ratified it, yet Malawi continues to miss out on the list. Many policy makers argue that the local economy would collapse and create huge unemployment if the country ratifies the largest health treaty on the planet.
Wanyonyi notes that not only in Malawi but in also other countries, the tobacco industry continues to interfere with tobacco control efforts by bribing policy makers to stop them from taking drastic action in reducing tobacco use.“We know that in many countries, policy makers have been bribed by the tobacco industry to stop them from taking action, for instance in Kenya, the tobacco industry has even financed and sponsored policy makers on lucrative international trips”, she observes.
The Six Edition of the 2018 Tobacco Atlas launched at a news conference in Cape Town observes that many farmers report difficulty obtaining credit for other economic activities. For some, it is a way to generate cash in low-cash economies to pay for necessities like education and health care. Yet, the research demonstrates consistently that many tobacco farmers under estimate their costs and overestimate their returns
In addition it points out that in Malawi for instance most small holder farmers do not benefit from tobacco, while it is the largest tobacco multinational companies who make huge profits, while farmers remain in abject poverty.
“Recent research across major tobacco-growing countries demonstrates that farming tobacco is not prosperous for most smallholder farmers. Many farmers— including many with contracts with oligopolistic leaf-buying companies—pay too much for inputs (e.g., fertilizer, pesticides, etc.),receive very low prices for their leaf, and dedicate hundreds of hours to a mostly unprofitable economic pursuit” reads in part of the report co-authored by Vital Strategies, a New York based organization and the American Cancer Society.-nyasatimes
WHO director, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus warned that WHO will not watch the tobacco industry interfering with control efforts to undermine public health