The Executive Director of Raid-The Gambia has stated that The Gambia is among the champions of tobacco control in Sub-Saharan Africa, after the country has attained much success in the past few years.
Sambujang Conteh made this statement yesterdary at the Arch 22 in Banjul, where his organisation was launching a two-year capacity building project, supported by the African Capacity Building Foundation.
The project he said is geared towards contributing to the reduction of tobacco prevalence in The Gambia. He said the project comprises three components: building the institutional capacity of Raid-The Gambia, advocate for passages of comprehensive tobacco control bill, and strengthening the collaboration among tobacco stakeholders.
Conteh further informed the gathering that the project will start from January 2016 to 2017, during which Raid and its partners will conduct series of consultations and advocacy activities for a bill to be enacted by cabinet and the National Assembly.
The Executive Director added that the project envisaged that comprehensive bill will incorporate all other pieces of existing tobacco control laws in The Gambia to have a single comprehensive tobacco law.
The Director of Health Promotion and Education at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Momodou Njai, deputising for the Minister, Hon. Omar Sey, acknowledged that Raid-The Gambia is an organisation that is always behind the Ministry of Health in the fight against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), tobacco in particular.
He pointed out that globally tobacco epidemic kills nearly six million people each year; of which more than 600,000 are non-smokers dying from breathing second hand smoke.
He revealed that in The Gambia, tobacco use constitutes one of the most significant risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases adding that direct or indirect tobacco-induced cancer, disability, heart diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and their complications place an unnecessarily high burden on meager resources for the health sector.
According to statistics, Njai disclosed, tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is on the increase among adolescent and adult populations in The Gambia, and that recent research suggests that smoking prevalence in adolescent population aged 13 to 15 years is estimated at 24.5%, the majority, 28.1% of which are boys; and 31% prevalence rate among youth population aged 25-34 years.
He said an average adult Gambian male aged 25 to 64 years smokes about 10 sticks of cigarette a day. This, he pointed out, is indicative of a very high level of cigarette consumption in the country, which needs programmes or projects for effective and efficient interventions.
He thanked the African Capacity Building Foundation for their support to Raid-The Gambia in their drive to fight tobacco in The Gambia.
For his part, Tamba .S. Kinteh, the Chairman of the Board of Directors Raid-The Gambia, said the NGO was established in 1993 and since then the organisation has been complementing Government’s efforts in the area of tobacco control and prevention in the country and has been working with the Ministry of Health and partners.
by Momodou Faal