The World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) 2030 project was on Thursday launched in Accra to aid the development and implementation of a national tobacco strategy in Ghana.
The framework, which would be implemented in one year, is also expected to ensure the enforcement of a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising and depiction in the entertainment media.
It is funded by the governments of Australia, Norway and the United Kingdom, with technical assistance from the WHO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Mr Kwaku Agyeman- Manu, the Minister for Health, who launched the framework, said the burden of disease and death that tobacco smoking imposes on public health was extensive.
“In Ghana, more than 500,000 adults are estimated to smoke cigarettes and other tobacco products on a daily basis,” he said.
He stated that the Global Tobacco Survey had estimated that smoking tobacco was prevalent among young people and about 75 men die every week from smoking cigarettes.
He said presently, Ghana was faced with a dual burden of disease with the upsurge of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and a wide array of cancers and the project was timely for the eradication of emerging tobacco control challenges.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said Ghana had, however, made significant strides in the control of tobacco use with the inclusion of tobacco-specific provisions in the Public Health act 2012, the passage of the tobacco control regulations in 2016 and the introduction of graphic health warnings.
“Despite this success, Ghana still has a long way to go in the pursuit of attaining a tobacco-free country, key amongst the tobacco control challenges is the absence of a comprehensive smoke-free policy, weak interagency coordination and difficulties in implementing a total ban on tobacco products advertising,” he said.
Dr Francis Kasolo, the WHO representative to Ghana, said the use of tobacco had contributed to ill health in many countries and accounted for seven million deaths each year.
He congratulated Ghana for being selected to be part of the WHO FCTC project, adding that the effective control of tobacco through the project, would require leadership, coordination and multistakeholder involvement.
Mrs Delese Mimi Darko, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), said there was an urgent need to fight against tobacco smoking now more than ever, considering the prevailing circumstances of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
She said the launch of the FCTC would provide the needed support for the implementation of a tobacco-free environment in the country.
“This set the right agenda in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 in a middle-income country like Ghana,” Mrs Darko said.