Ministry of Health and Family Welfare26-July, 2013 14:27 IST
Regional Meeting on Implementation of the WHO FCTC for South-East Asia Region concluded

The 4-day Regional Meeting on Implementation of the WHO FCTC for South-East Asia Region (23-26 July 2013) concluded in New Delhi today. The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in collaboration with WHO SEARO and the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). Technical assistance to the meeting was provided by the WHO Country Office.

The key objectives of the meeting were:– (1) to review implementation of the WHO FCTC and major developments related to the treaty in the region and internationally; (2) to facilitate inter country exchanges on implementation achievements and challenges, including identification of the best practices and the ways of further promoting their dissemination and use; (3) to review instruments available for implementation of the Convention, particularly the guidelines and the reporting system adopted by the Conference of the Parties; (4) to discuss international cooperation, resources and mechanisms of assistance for implementation of the WHO FCTC, as enshrined in the Convention and mandated by the Conference of the Parties, and the facilitation of assistance to Parties for implementation of the Convention and (5) to raise awareness of the newly adopted Protocol to eliminate illicit trade in Tobacco Products and to promote its signature and ratification.

The participants of the meeting included representatives from 10 South East Asian Countries (India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives, Indonesia, Thailand, Timor Leste & Sri Lanka); World Bank; World Customs Organization (WCO); UNDP; Framework Convention Alliance (FCA); State Nodal Officers, National Tobacco Control Programme from 21 states, Consultants; NTCP; Bloomber Initiative (BI) Partners and select Civil Society Organizations working on Tobacco Control. The Secretariat to Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) was led by the Head, Convention Secretariat. Dr. Haik Nokigosian.

The Indian delegation to this meeting was led by Shri Keshav Desiraju, Secretary, Health & Family Welfare that included, Dr. Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services (DHGS), Shri. C.K. Mishra Addl. Secretary, MOHFW, Ms. Shakuntala Gamlin, Joint Secretary, Shri S.K. Rao Joint Secretary, MOHFW, Dr. N.S. Dharamkhaktu, DDG, Shri Amal Pusp, Director, MOHFW and Dr. L Swasticharan, Chief Medical officer, MOHFW.

During the meeting, delegates discussed issues related to the implementation of the WHO FCTC - achievements and challenges and related to the Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products –its ratification and entry into force. Participants of SEAR countries shared their experience on implementing Article 8 (smoke-free laws), Article – 11 (packaging and labelling of tobacco products), Article -12 (information, education and communication including training), and Article 13 (ban on tobacco advertisement). The discussion also focussed on other emerging and crucial issues like trade related aspects of tobacco products and integration of WHO FCTC into United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), post 2015 development agenda and MDG’s.

During the meeting, Government of India showcased its efforts relating to banning of Gutkha and the implementation of the ‘tobacco-free movie’ Rules.

The campaign “Voice of Tobacco Victims” was presented and some patients shared their personal stories with the participants, which was appreciated by all countries.

Presentations were made by International Agencies like United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank, UNODC, World Customs Organization (WCO), International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and Civil Society Organizations.

Regional position on three important issues viz (i) E-cigarettes or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) (ii) hookah/water pipe and (iii) smokeless tobacco were discussed and policy recommendations were issued.

On the issue of ENDS countries of the Region recognized the adverse impact of ENDS on human health that sustain and perpetrate nicotine addiction and resolve to take appropriate action/measures in line with obligations under Article 5.2(b) of the WHO FCTC to prevent and reduce nicotine addiction including through banning ENDS.

On the issue of hookah/water pipes countries of the Region were unanimous in the fact that hookah/water pipe is a health hazard and agreed to take appropriate legislative, administrative and regulatory measures to prevent the use of water pipes (hookah).

Countries of this Region were unanimous on the fact that Smokeless tobacco including use of areca nut poses serious public health problems in most countries in the Region due to high prevalence of use, the wide diversity, the social acceptance of its use and lack of awareness of its adverse health consequences and called for introducing strong legislations and regulations to control the use of smokeless tobacco. Potential projects employing IARC’s expertise to the advancement of FCTC implementation in the Region under South-South and Triangular Cooperation in accordance with COP 5 decision were also identified.

The WHO World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) awards for 2013 were also presented on the closing day of the meeting. Every year WHO recognises individuals or organisations for their exemplary work in tobacco control. The WNTD award 2013 was presented by the WHO India office to the Directorate of Medical and Health Services, Government of Rajasthan; Ms Shobha John, Healthbridge and Dr. Rakesh Gupta, Rajasthan Cancer Foundation. The WHO South-East Asia Region ‘Regional Director’s Appreciation Award for WNTD 2013’ was presented to Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Secretary Health ,Govt of Bihar; Ms Jyotsna Govil, Indian Cancer Society; Mr. Bejon Mishra, Consumer Online Foundation; Mr. Hemant Goswami, Burning Brain Society; Kerala Voluntary Health Services and Dr. Srinivas Ramaka, Consultant Cardiologist.

(Release ID :97429)