Africa: The WHO Africa Gates Tobacco Control Project Review Meeting Kicked Off in Kigali

Kigali, 27th August 2019: The World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Rwanda, is organizing in Kigali, a three days' workshop, from 27th to 29th August 2019, on WHO Africa Gates Tobacco Control Project Review in the African Region. The participants are focal points for Tobacco control in the Ministries of Health and WHO Country Offices from countries supported by the Gates Tobacco Control Project whose current phase of Project is Phase 3 which commenced on 6th April 2017 and will end in 2020. A total of 13 countries are benefiting from the project funding namely, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda.

The objectives of the meeting are to:

(i) review the progress made in each country in the implementation of Phase 3 activities;

(ii) To identify challenges faced and develop strategies to overcome them;

(iii) To develop a short term plan for remaining priority actions under Gates Project Phase 3;

(iv) To explore priority areas that can be considered in the next phase of the Gates Project.

The Meeting was officially opened by the Division Manager of NCDs in Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Dr Gilles Ndayisaba on behalf of the Minister of Health. Dr Jean Marie Dangou, NCDs/AFRO, is representing WHO Representative in Rwanda and AFRO Region.

In his opening speech, the Representative of the Ministry of Health welcomed all participants in Rwanda. He highlighted that "tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing more than 8 million people a year. More than 6 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while around 890 000 are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke". He urged countries to put all efforts to fight tobacco and other NCDs risk factors, especially in youth for a better and healthier future.

Dr Dangou, on behalf of WHO Representative in Rwanda, Dr Kasonde Mwinga, thanked Rwanda for hosting this meeting. He recalled that WHO has been working with governments by supporting the Ministry of Health and Partners, to improve the health of populations towards Universal Health Coverage, especially by tackling epidemics like tobacco consumption. He "appreciated the generosity of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for providing funding support that has continued to support tobacco control activities in 13 countries in the region". He added: "Let us ensure that the impacts of these resources are seen and felt through tangible results and eventually a reduction of tobacco use in Africa. This will save many lives and bring savings to our economies".

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