VALD expresses appreciation for the passage of the Public Health Bill
7/12/2012 9:30:27 PM -
Accra, July 12, GNA - The Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a health based NGO, has expressed its happiness at the passage of the Public Health Bill by Parliament.
A press release signed by Mr Issan Ali, the Executive Director of VALD, said the passage of the Act on July 11, 2012 would provide a comprehensive legislation on public health and it would also be guided by equity, social justice, public education and awareness.
He said the legislation would bring together tobacco control, vaccination, quarantine, clinical trials, food and drugs, communicable diseases, vector control and environmental sanitation.
Mr Ali said smoking of tobacco is a greater cause of death and disability than any other disease although it is preventable saying 'one in every two long-term smokers will ultimately die as a result of tobacco use unless they quit the habit.'
He said research have it that more than six million people die in a year and one hundred million people have died in the century as a result of tobacco-related diseases.
'It is estimated that about one billion people will die in this century unless a number of smokers quit the habit of smoking of tobacco or tobacco products and that about seven thousand chemical compounds have been identified in tobacco smoke,' he said.
He said of the above figure 69 percent are known to be cancer causing agents which could lead to diseases like lung cancer, bronchitis and emphysema and is also linked to the high incidence and gravity of cardiac diseases.
The Executive Director said 'in this country tobacco use is rising steadily especially among the youth and that a recent nationwide survey to determine smoking prevalence among school children aged between 12 and 18 years showed that about 14 per cent have used tobacco before, and five per cent are currently smoking cigarette.'
He said considering the extent of the harmful effect of smoking on health and the culture of associating smoking with social success, business advancement and sporting process through advertisement, in the year 2004 the 192 member states of the World Health Organisation, including Ghana, adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which banned advertising and sponsorships by tobacco companies.
He said Ghana has since ratified the Convention which enjoined it to take administrative, legislative and any other means to curb the incidence of smoking and reduce the hazards associated with smoking.
Mr Ali said the tobacco control measures of the Act would prohibit smoking in public places, ban advertising of tobacco products, tobacco sponsorship, promotion, ban its sale, while it mandated printing of health warnings on tobacco packs, prohibit minors from selling, buying, lighting and exposure.
The legislation further mandated the Health Ministry to educate the public on the effects of tobacco use and its exposure and to treat persons addicted to tobacco who would like to quit the act. It would also collaborate with relevant bodies to check illicit trade and manufacturing of the product.
The Food and Drugs Authority is the regulatory agency to deal with tobacco matters and may appoint inspectors and analysts to carry out its functions. The Act gives power to the Health Minister to make regulations, and provides for offences, interpretation and transitional provisions.