Ghana has been selected as the Phase Three 2030 project country of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
This means that the country will, among others, receive financial and technical support to develop and implement a comprehensive national tobacco control strategy.
The country was selected after a rigorous selection process by representatives from the secretariat of the WHO FCTC, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the WHO.
Funded by the governments of Australia, Norway, and the United Kingdom, the one year project would cost of $87,000.
The FCTC project will be implemented, in partnership with the WHO, UNDP and experts from civil society and academic organisations.
At a ceremony to launch the project in Accra yesterday, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, said the project was timely as it would help eradicate the emerging tobacco control challenges in the country which included the absence of comprehensive smoke free policies, weak inter-agency coordination and difficulties in implementing a total ban on tobacco product advertising.
He said the project would also augment the country’s existing framework for health promotion.
“Ghana has made significant strides in the control of tobacco use. This includes the inclusion of tobacco specific provisions in the Public Health Act, 2012, passage of the Tobacco Control Regulations, 2016 (L. 2247) and the introduction of graphic health warnings,” he noted.
He added that in spite of the successes, the country still had a long way to go in the pursuit of attaining a tobacco-free country.
He said in Ghana, more than 500,000 adults were estimated to smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products on a daily basis, according to a Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS, 2005).
“The survey also estimated that the incident was prevalent among young people in the country. About 75 men die every week from cigarette smoking,” he noted.
The UNDP Representative, Dudley Tarlton, explained that the FCTC project would focus on increasing tobacco taxes, enforcing bans on advertising, sponsoring and promotion of tobacco, providing cessation support, expand and enforce restrictions on smoking in public spaces.
He said the implementation of the measures would prevent more than 19,840 deaths and recover economic output of GH¢1.8 billion after 15 years of implementation.
Touching on Tobacco Control in Ghana and the Project’s activities, the Director of Tobacco and Substance of Abuse Directorate at the FDA, Dr Olivia Agyekumwaa Boateng, noted that the activities would, among others, include multi-stakeholder consultation to design, develop, draft and validate a comprehensive national tobacco strategy; train enforcement agencies and media practitioners to enforce the ban on tobacco advertisement.
The Team Lead for Development Assistance at WHO FCTC Secretariat, Andrew Black, congratulated Ghana on being selected and expressed the secretariat’s commitment to support Ghana’s ambition on tobacco control.