By Amie Sanneh
Globally, tobacco epidemic kills nearly six million people each year, of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second-hand smoke, said the Director of Health Promotion and Education. “Unless we act, the epidemic will kill more than eight million people every year by
- More than 80% of these preventable deaths will be among people living in low- and middle-income countries,” he stated.
Health and Promotion Director, Modou Njai, was speaking on Monday at the Launching of a two year project to be implemented by RAID-The Gambia funded by African Capacity Building Foundation. The two year project started in October this year.
Speaking on behalf of the Health Minister, Modou Njai, said tobacco use constitutes one of the most significant risk factors for Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in The Gambia. “Directly or indirectly, tobacco-induced cancer, disability, heart diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and their complications place an unnecessary high burden on the meagre resources for the health sectors,” he said
According to the statistics, tobacco use particularly cigarette smoking, is on the increase among both the adolescent and adult populations in the Gambia, he added. “Recent research suggests that smoking prevalence in the adolescent population aged 13 to 15 years is estimated at 24.5%, the majority, 28.1%, of which are boys and 31% prevalence rate among youth population aged 25 – 34 years,” explains Njai. He further stated that an average adult Gambian male aged 25 to 64 years smokes about 10 sticks of cigarettes a day. This, he continued is indicative of a very high level of cigarette consumption in the country. There is need for programmes or projects for effective and efficient interventions.
Njai noted that developing countries are now facing a shift from the burden of communicable diseases to non-communicable diseases and The Gambia is not an exception to this phenomenon.
He described the project awarded to RAID as no mistake as RAID The Gambia is a Civil Society Organisation that is always behind his ministry in the fight against Non Communicable Diseases, tobacco control in particular and their intervention activities to the development of Policies, strategies and recently the Tobacco Control Bill.
The Director of Health said his ministry believes that effective tobacco control is beyond a single ministry, organization or institution thus describing the timeliness and importance of the project.
He appealed to all the NGOs and Civil Society organisations through TANGO to consider NCD prevention and control in their programme agenda.
He assured RAID the ministry’s fullest support in the successful implementation of the project.
The Director of RAID, The Gambia Sambujang Conteh described the day as another significant milestone in the history of the Gambia tobacco control efforts, which is the launching of a project geared towards contributing to the reduction of tobacco prevalence in the Gambia.
Raid Director said the two year project title Raid Capacity Building Project comprises three projects
- Building the Institutional Capacity of Raid-the Gambia.
- Advocate for the passages of the comprehensive tobacco control bill.
- Strengthening the collaboration among tobacco control stakeholders.
According to Conteh, within the duration of the project, Raid and partners will conduct series of consultation and advocacy activities for a bill to be enacted by the Cabinet and the National Assembly. “We envisaged that this comprehensive bill will incorporate all other pieces of existing tobacco control laws in the Gambia to have a single comprehensive tobacco control Law,” he said. We expressed optimism that they will have the support of the executive, the cabinet and His Excellency in their effort for the Cambia to have a single Comprehensive Tobacco Control Law.
He reminded the gathering that the Gambia is a signatory to WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which calls for regulatory measures to control tobacco use and one of these measures, is to have a comprehensive tobacco control Bill.
Raid Director described the Gambia as among the champions of tobacco control within Sub-Saharan Africa registering successes in the past few years and noted more will be registered in years to come with the strong and committed Inter-Ministerial committee headed by the Ministry of Health and Social welfare.
While commending its partners, Conteh assured that RAID will be committed and will always be willing to continue the fight until the Gambia is declared a tobacco free nation.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman Board of Directors, RAID Tamba S. Kinteh described the occasion as significant to them noting that securing this project is the highest investment for RAID, The Gambia.
Giving a brief history of his organization, he said it started in 1993 and got registered in 1996 and since then they have carried out series of activities.
Inclusive in the project, is a fully furnished office for RAID which has been rented for two years. Officials used the opportunity of the launching to inaugurate the office.
RAID-The Gambia also awarded a certificate of appreciation to Mr. Gassama for being committed in the campaign for tobacco control.