To­bacco kills 5 700 in Malawi-re­port

Daily Nation Newspaper - - BUSINESS & CORPORATE -

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

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