Tanzania: 'Maladies Caused By Tobacco Alarming'

Photo: pixabay

Dar es Salaam — Health experts from Tanzania's two leading health institutions yesterday warned of pertinent cases of patients who report to the facilities with menacing diseases linked to tobacco consumption as they joined anti-tobacco campaigners who are calling on the government to enact a tougher law against tobacco use.

At the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI), where most patients with complications of heart disease report, the executive director, Prof Mohammed Janabi (pictured), said since 2015, there were 4,207 patients who underwent surgery at the facility and one fifth of them were found to have complications related to cigarette smoking.

"To treat a patient whose blood vessels have been damaged, and mostly due to cigarette smoking, costs between Sh6 million and Sh8 million," said Prof Janabi, explaining how cigarette smoking is becoming a global problem economically and socially, with Tanzanians, mostly the youth being seriously affected.

Prof Janabi was speaking at a press conference called jointly with the Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF), the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI) and JKCI to launch the Tobacco Industry Interference Index 2019.

TTCF, which represents a group of anti-tobacco campaigners in the country, wants the government to make tobacco control a national priority and enact an effective law to enable Tanzanians to realise their right to a health and be free from hazards of tobacco consumption.

Currently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says the most common cause of death is cardiovascular disease, as each year 11 million die whereas one fifth is related to smoking cigarette.

TTCF executive director Lutgard Kagaruki Tanzania signed the WHO-Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) but is yet to enact a tough tobacco control law. She said the situation has created a leeway for the tobacco industry to operate freely in the country.

"Since 2018, tobacco advertising especially at points of sale and promotion has increased exponentially targeting particularly the youth," she revealed.

Ms Kagaruki added that the cost vis-à-vis benefit of tobacco business is that more people suffer and die. People's health must be protected, she noted.

During the press conference, the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI), epidemiology and biostatistics manager Johnson Katanga said currently in the world the lung cancer is the main cause of death among users of tobacco products.

Dr Katanga added that out of people who died of lung cancer are related to smoking cigarette and using other tobacco products. He said 32 per cent of patients received at ORCI had problems related to smoking cigarettes or use of other tobacco products, adding the situation would get worse if no urgent measures are taken to raise awareness.

"Those patients we have received from 2012 to 2019 some of them were affected by uses of tobacco products. Cigarette has been cited as causes of number of cancer," he said.

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