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Meeting on Implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in the Maldives

A meeting was organized in collaboration with the World Health Organization and Health Protection Agency for the implementation of the WHO Framework on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in the Maldives. One of the major aims of the meeting was to identify and pinpoint mechanisms for multisectoral actions to control tobacco in the country.

In her opening remarks, WHO Representative to the Republic of Maldives Dr Akjemal Magtymova described tobacco as “the most difficult topic” to talk about as on one hand it is the world’s number one preventable killer and on the other, it is also a product of business. She emphasized the importance of reaching out to the healthy and young in the Maldives and educating them on the dangers of smoking and tobacco usage.

“As a tool for fighting back, we have the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, with 179 parties now committed to implementing the treaty’s articles and obligations. These parties govern nearly 90% of the world’s 7 billion people. We also have a practical, cost-effective way to scale up implementation of provisions in the treaty on the ground. That is, the best-buy measures for reducing tobacco use set out in the MPOWER package: monitoring tobacco use, protecting people from second hand smoke, offering help to quit tobacco use, warning on the dangers of tobacco, effective enforcement of banning tobacco advertising, promotion, sponsorship and raising tobacco taxes” Dr Akjemal Magtymova stressed.

The WHO believes that the full implementation of their Framework Convention on Tobacco control would deliver the single biggest preventive blow to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and respiratory diseases.

The meeting which lasted two days was attended by Tobacco experts Dr Nyo Nyo Kyaing and Dr Dhirendra Sinha from the WHO South East Asia Regional Office, professionals representing Maldives Customs Services, Department of Immigration and Emigration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs etc. WHO Experts facilitated the group work activities and question and answer sessions together with the head of HPA Tobacco Prevention and Control Unit Mr Hassan Mohamed.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) is the first international treaty negotiated under the auspices of WHO. It was adopted by the World Health Assembly on 21 May 2003 and entered into force on 27 February 2005. It has since become one of the most rapidly and widely embraced treaties in United Nations history.

The main objectives of the Tobacco and Substance Abuse programme in the Maldives is to prevent all the citizens of the Maldives from the dangers of Tobacco, especially from the mental, financial and health-related risks etc.  Over half of the Maldivian men and one in every ten women are victims of tobacco. Worryingly, tobacco use among young students of age 13 to 15 has not decreased between the years 2004 to 2011.

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