12 July 2012

Gambia: Tobacco Control a Top Gov't Priority - Says Health Minister

The minister of Health and Social Welfare, Fatim Badjie, has said that the government of The Gambia places tobacco control and prevention as a top priority in its agenda. She further stated that the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which The Gambia is a signatory, shows the government's commitment to implementing the treaty, articles and obligations.

He Health minister's statement was read on her behalf by Momodou Njai, the newly appointed director of Health Promotion at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare during the opening of a two-day stakeholders meeting on development campaign for resource mobilisation on tobacco control in The Gambia held at Laico Hotel and Resort in Banjul.

She pointed out that the banning of tobacco advertisement in The Gambia has stopped the tobacco companies from making advertisements or continuing to associate smoking with positive images of health, sports, success and romance openly. She assured that her Ministry will closely work with Raid-The Gambia, Ministry of Justice and its partners in the fight against tobacco use to raise awareness on the enforcement of smoking ban in public places.

Also addressing the gathering, Momodou Bamba Sagna, a representative of African Tobacco Control Consortium (ATCC) said tobacco is the only legal product that when used as directed, is lethal, adding that its influence extends into all corners of the globe, threatening lives and livelihoods. He thanked the Gambia government and Raid-The Gambia for their commitment towards non-communicable diseases in the country.

For his part, the director of Raid-The Gambia, Sambujang Conteh said research reveals that most of the young people in the country who are using drugs started with cigarettes smoking. He added that advocacy and resource mobilisation will be strengthened to intensify on the area of tobacco control and prevention. He finally thanked African Tobacco Control Consortium for funding the meeting.

Other speakers at the ceremony included the WHO Health Promotion Office Gambia office, Momodou Gassama.

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