By Sarjo Camara-Singateh
The country representative of World Health Organisation, Dr. Charles Segue Moses, stated that the tobacco epidemic is one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, killing around 6 million people a year. More than 5 million of those deaths are the result of direct tobacco use while more than 600,000 are the result of nonsmokers being exposed to second hand smoking.
Dr Moses made these remarks recently during the celebration of the world no tobacco day in Sanyang Village in the West Coast Region, which was done in collaboration with the ministry of health and social welfare.
Dr. Charles Segue Moses noted that unfortunately, nearly 80% of the world’s more than one billion smokers live in low- and middle -income countries including the Gambia.
The minister of health and social welfare honorable Omar Mr Sey stated that a collaborative effort is needed to effectively control tobacco and its risk factor in the country.
He said the theme “eliminate illicit trade on tobacco product” is a global problem and it needs a global solution. He said it poses a serious threat to public health as it increases the access to – often keeper – tobacco epidemic and undermining tobacco control policy. He said the protocol is open to ratification and accession by parties to World Health Organisation (WHO) FCTC (frame convention on tobacco control). The Gambia deposited an instrument of accession to the Secretary General of the United Nations on the 10th February 2015 as a form of ratifying the protocol.
The Commissioner General of Gambia Revenue Authority, Mr. Yankuba Darboe also added his weight behind the anti tobacco campaigners. He appealed to the general public for them to provide them with genuine lead information on any possible illicit trade activities in their communities, towns or regions to that they can combat illicit trade in all its forms, not only tobacco product but all other products.
The Deputy Governor, Mr. Musa Nyassi of West Coast Region said the theme deaths as a result of tobacco use are the world’s number one preventable mortality. In a world undergoing economic upheaval, with ageing population, chronic diseases on the rise and medical cost soaring, tackling a huge and entirely preventable disease and death becomes more imperative for one to give tobacco control a second thought in our development agenda.
He said they know that tobacco smoking kills innocent by standers, who are forced to breathe air contaminated with hundreds of chemicals. “We know what tobacco exposure during pregnancy does to the fetus, another innocent, blameless, and entirely helpless victim.
Zandeh Jarjue deputised the Regional Health Team Director. She said the more exposed to tobacco advertisement you are the more likely you are to smoke, people underestimate the risk of becoming addicted to nicotine and the tragic health consequences that easily follow. She called on the traditional leaders to join the fight against tobacco smoking.
The Alkalo of Sanyang welcomed the gathering and prayers by the Imam of the village.
The vote of thanks was delivered by Mr. Omar Badgie the programme manager, NCDS and tobacco focal point, at the ministry of health. Mr. Badgie urged people to desist from tobacco smoking and also take cognisance of the non-communicable diseases as they are on the increase. The ceremony was chaired by Modou Njie the Director of Health Promotion and Education, ministry of health, drama on tobacco use was displayed by the Sanyang school children and entertainment by the Jaliba Kuyateh.