By MUHAMMED S. BAH
Law Makers, on Tuesday, 20 December, 2016 adopted two bills namely Tobacco Control and Public Environmental Health Training and Practice in The Gambia bills of 2016 respectively.
Tabling the bill before deputies, the Minister for health and social welfare, Omar Sey, said Tobacco constitutes one of the most significant risk factors for Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in the Gambia. Directly or indirectly, tobacco-induced cancer, disability, heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, to name but a few, and their treatments place an unnecessary high burden on the meager resources for the health sector. He said unfortunately, the youth population, which also constitutes the most productive and economically active age group, is the most active user of tabacco mainly through smoking. “Cognizant of the facts highlighted, The Gambia has taken some positive steps towards tabacoo control over the years. It has legislated a ban on public smoking and advertisement of tobacco and its related products in 1998 and 2003 respectively,” Minister Sey recalled.
He explains that in the Gambia and globally, public and environmental health professionals played a leading role in the attainment of such achievements. “Because of this critical role they play, governments recognized the urgent need to regulate public and environment health practice with a view to ensuring the effective execution and management of public and environmental health functions,” he remarked.
According to the Health Minister, such regulation begins at the institutions established to provide training in public and environment health.
He said the foundation for the regulation of public and environment health council will exercise general supervision and control over the training, practice and employment of public and environmental health officers in The Gambia and advise the Government in relation to all aspects thereof.
Hon Sainey Mbye, NAM for Upper Saloum, described the bill as timely and stressed the need for the setting up of standards for the attraction of tourism, and not to compromise it as tourism contributes to the Gross Domestic Product of the country.