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A snapshot of progress towards implementing FCTC in Africa

Virtual Event
01 Nov, 2021

Speakers from the World Health Organization (WHO) reminded delegates at the first Africa Conference on Tobacco Control and Development, of the high level of support among African countries for its global Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Dr. Adriana Blanco Marquizo of the FCTC Secretariat pointed out that 44 out of 47 countries in the WHO Afro Region had signed up to the convention. “They are not just paying lip-service,“ she said. “There is clear commitment.”

Dr William Maina, Senior Project Officer at WHO Afro in Uganda, provided further evidence:

  • A total of 36 out of 47 African countries had passed laws to regulate tobacco. There are still 11 countries where the population is not protected by tobacco control laws.
  • A total of 36 African countries have restricted smoking in public places – some in all public places and others less comprehensively.
  • There are 24 African countries with laws requiring large graphic warnings on the health risks of smoking on product packaging.

But it was also an occasion to talk about the unfinished agenda for advancing tobacco control in Africa.

Several speakers highlighted the fact that African countries had underutilised the potentially powerful tool of increasing taxation on tobacco products, which are consequently quite cheap in Africa. Only four countries have achieved the recommended target of an excise tax amounting to 70% of the total price of the product.

Speakers also pointed to the relatively weak enforcement of tobacco control provisions and the related issue of severe under-resourcing of tobacco control in Africa. This lack of human capacity has weakened the production of evidence for locally produced, contextually appropriate control approaches. African governments have not matched their policy commitments with hard funding commitments and speakers indicated this would be necessary to take tobacco control in Africa to new level of effectiveness.

An aspect of tobacco control that requires particular attention in Africa is the supply side: there are countries on the continent where production of tobacco continues to provide a means of subsistence for significant numbers of people. The development of alternative means of income has not received the requisite attention.

Attempts by the tobacco industry to obstruct control measures – for example, by litigation – and its ability to take advantage of any gaps in the regulatory defence of nations are factors that the tobacco control community in Africa continues to confront.

While acknowledging this reality, Dr Ahmed Ogwell Ouma of the Africa Centre for Disease Control, urged tobacco control researchers, advocates and planners to focus less on the problems and more on the solutions. “We tend to focus on the tobacco industry and they – instead of our solutions – become the conversation,” he said, in answer to a question. “Change the narrative. Don’t talk about the industry but about possible solutions and engage with policy makers.”

Thomas Kwesi Quartey

ACBF has been granted the status of a specialized agency because of the potential to transform Africa through capacity development.

H.E. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson, AU Commission
Erastus Mwencha

The recognition of ACBF as the African Union’s Specialized Agency for Capacity Development launches the beginning of a new era for capacity building by ACBF, which will require an appropriate level of political commitment and financial support from all stakeholders.

H.E. Erastus Mwencha, Chair, ACBF Executive Board
Lamin Momodou

The remarkable achievements ACBF has registered over the past 26 years is not by accident in our opinion. They have come through hard work, dedication, commitment, purposeful leadership, support from the member countries as well as productive partnership building.

Mr. Lamin Momodou MANNEH, Director, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa
Goodall Gondwe

Africa needs ACBF as much, probably more now, than at the time it was created in 1991.

Hon. Goodall Gondwe, former Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance – Malawi
Ken Ofori Atta

Ghana’s partnership with ACBF is a tremendous blessing for us and therefore the opportunity for Ghana to host the 26th ACBF Board of Governors Meeting is something that we treasure.

Hon Ken Ofori Atta, Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance - Ghana