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A third of all countries in the Americas have still not implemented effective tobacco control measures

Washington D.C, 29 August 2018 (PAHO/WHO) – While progress has been made to address the tobacco epidemic in the Americas, over one-third of countries in the region has yet to implement the highest level of effective tobacco control measures. Governments must urgently increase efforts to apply these measures and save lives, says new Regional Report on Tobacco Control in the Americas 2018 from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

The number of tobacco users in the region has dropped to just 17%, which is below the global average of 20%. However, this means that one in every five adults above the age of 15 still uses tobacco, one of the main causes of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).

Countries have committed to implementing measures to reduce premature mortality from these diseases by one-third by 2030, in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals. PAHO’s report highlights that it is vital that countries step up efforts to increase tobacco control measures in order to meet this objective.

“While we are certainly heading in the right direction when it comes to reducing the number of tobacco users and protecting the population from the adverse effects of tobacco exposure, we are just not moving fast enough. The fact remains that more than two thousand people die each day in the Americas as a direct consequence of tobacco use and this epidemic will continue unless countries accelerate the speed at which effective policies are being implemented.” ..   Dr. Anselm Hennis, Director of the Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Unit at PAHO.

The new report highlights progress that countries in the Americas have made towards implementing the measures outlined in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), which aims to protect present and future generations from the devastating consequences of tobacco use and exposure. These measures include regulations to protect people from tobacco smoke by establishing 100% smoke-free environments; the mandatory inclusion of large, graphic health warnings on all tobacco packaging; raising taxes on tobacco; and a total ban on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship. The report shows that 12 out of 35 countries in the Americas have yet to implement even one of these effective tobacco control measures.

PAHO 2018 report on tobaccooThe report also shows that while implementation of tobacco control measures has increased in the region over the past decade, progress has recently slowed down.

The two most implemented tobacco control measures in the Americas are those that protect against exposure to tobacco smoke through 100% smoke-free environments, and mandatory health warnings on all tobacco packaging, implemented in 19 and 18 countries respectively, two more for each measure than in 2016.

Fourteen countries in the Americas have reduced the affordability of tobacco products, increasing the price of the most popular brand of cigarettes in relation to income. The report highlights the case of Argentina, which raised taxes on tobacco products to comprise 75% of their retail price. Colombia and Peru have also significantly increased taxes on tobacco products.

Even so, since 2016, just one country in the region has banned tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, bringing the total number of countries implementing this measure to six.

“The increase in the number of countries to have put into effect at least one effective tobacco control measure is reassuring,” said Dr. Adriana Blanco, Chief of the Risk Factors and Nutrition Unit at PAHO. “But since 2016, the number of countries to have implemented at least four measures remains unchanged, at six. If we are to effectively protect populations against the impact of tobacco use, we need to go much further and ensure that more measures are implemented.”

Progress in the Caribbean

One of the main areas of progress in the last two years outlined in the report occurred in the Caribbean, although it remains the subregion with the lowest number of countries to have implemented the measures outlined in the WHO FCTC.

Guyana was highlighted due to the passing of its comprehensive tobacco control law in 2017. This law now positions the country among the most compliant in three areas: protecting people from tobacco smoke; bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and mandatory large graphic health warnings on all tobacco packaging. Saint Lucia and Barbados are following suit with the approval of measures to include mandatory health warnings on tobacco product packaging.

“We welcome recent efforts from the Caribbean to begin the implementation of effective tobacco control measures and we hope this will show other countries in the sub-region the long-term benefits that measures will have on their economies and, most importantly, the health of their populations,” said Dr. Hennis.

 

Threats to ensuring tobacco control

The report highlights interference from the tobacco industry as an ongoing threat to the swift and effective implementation of tobacco control measures, as is the availability of new tobacco products on the market, which are widely and aggressively advertised to potential new consumers.

“It is vital that the region renews its commitment to overcoming these challenges,” said Dr. Hennis. “South-south cooperation must be strengthened in order to share best practices, and more regional studies must be carried out so that we can be better informed as to what works best in the region’s ongoing efforts on tobacco control.

MPOWER Measures

One of the primary strategies to support the implementation of the FCTC is the WHO MPOWER measures, which calls for government action on six areas: Monitor tobacco use and prevention policies (M); Protect people from tobacco smoke (P); Offer help to quit tobacco use (O); Warn about the dangers of tobacco (W); Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship (E); Raise taxes on tobacco (R).

The new report evaluates progress that countries in the Americas have made towards the implementation of these six measures, four of which have been defined as best buys for the prevention and control of NCDs.

Preparatory meeting for the Conference of the Parties

The report is being launched during the regional preparatory meeting for the Eighth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which is taking place in Washington D.C. from the 28 to 30 August 2018. This meeting brings together representatives from Ministries of Health and Ministries of Foreign Affairs of countries that are parties to the WHO FCTC from all over the region of the Americas, to discuss the main opportunities and challenges regarding tobacco control and how best to protect the population.

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The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) works with the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their populations.
 Founded in 1902, it is the world’s oldest international public health agency. It serves as the Regional Office of WHO for the Americas and is the specialized health agency of the Inter-American system.

 

 LINKS

Regional Report on Tobacco Control, 2018

WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC)

Strategy and Plan of Action to Strengthen Tobacco Control in the Region of the Americas 2018-2022


 

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Critical Health Response Ongoing due to Hurricanes Maria and Irma in the Caribbean

Washington, D.C., September 19, 2017 (PAHO/WHO)— Countries in the Caribbean continue implementing critical health response actions with support from the Pan American Health Organization, which is deploying Regional Response Teams and shipping medical and humanitarian supplies to islands affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma. Heavy rain and wind continue to hit the Leeward Islands, including those already affected by Hurricane Irma.

Hurricane Maria made landfall on Dominica Monday night as a Category 5 hurricane with 155-mph winds, causing heavy devastation. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said in a social media post that “The winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to or otherwise made contact with. My focus now is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured” on Dominica.

Priority needs include urgent repair and operational recovery of damaged health facilities in order to resume critical health services in the aftermath of the two category 5 hurricanes that impacted the Caribbean in less than 2 weeks. These services are badly needed particularly to manage emergency patients, to allow for quick diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases, and to reestablish treatment of chronic and non-communicable diseases, said Ciro Ugarte, Director of the Health Emergency Department.

Hurricane Maria “could greatly impact already battered structures and debris, complicate humanitarian aid delivery, and displace more people to shelters. A quick delivery of needed supplies and human resources as well as prepositioning and preparation for the coming storm will be important to avoid further public health impact in the countries and territories located in the path of this powerful hurricane,” Ugarte said.

The deployment of Regional Response Teams to the islands includes health disaster coordinators, sanitary and health facilities engineers and epidemiologists, as well as experts in public health, information management, logistics, vector control, and damage and needs assessment.

Maintaining sanitary conditions, especially in shelters, continues to be a priority. Increases in mosquitoes and rodents have been reported in heavily impacted islands. Vector control and cleaning supplies needs list has been requested from affected islands.

Intensified epidemiological surveillance to support early detection and timely management of disease outbreaks is crucial due to lack of access to clean water, healthcare and treatment, and increase in vectors, Ugarte said. Some shelters are already reporting diarrheal and skin diseases.

Healthcare professionals are being deployed from different islands to support the needed surge in human resources. Strengthening capacity in addressing mental health in impacted populations, especially those in shelters, is important, he added.

Logistics needs include restoration of the vaccine cold chain and increased space and safety for storage of medicines and health supplies. Security issues remain a challenge in the islands in order to distribute basic supplies and deploy personnel. A quick delivery of needed supplies and human resources is important due to Hurricane Maria and other potential storms developing in the Atlantic, Ugarte added.

Requested supplies are being provided by PAHO HQ and country offices in Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago. As the needed medical and humanitarian supplies are identified by countries and shared with PAHO, they are being prepositioned in Panama and Barbados for rapid distribution in response to Hurricane Maria.

PAHO continues to assess needs of impacted countries and territories and deploy funds, supplies and human resources as needs are identified by impacted islands. As new information emerges from the field, new possible deployments may be considered by health authorities, especially after the passage of Hurricane Maria. A second round of deployments is being organized.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is coordinating emergency projects to cover medical supplies, reestablish health services, and purchase of essential medicines and medical equipment. The United Nations (UN) is developing a joint UN Response Strategy that lays out the priorities of international humanitarian agencies (UN and NGOs and IFRC), working closely with national Governments and regional counterparts including the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, CDEMA.

Source:  PAHO Emergencies www.paho.org/emergencies
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PAHO Director to visit Guyana for new country cooperation strategy

Georgetown, Guyana, 5 February 2017 (PAHO/WHO) — The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, plans to visit Guyana from Feb. 5 to 8 to meet with high-level government officials and sign a new strategy for technical cooperation in health.

Her visit will include working meetings and courtesy visits with Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamooto, First Lady Sandra Granger and Minister of Public Health, Hon. Dr. Volda Lawrence and her staff. 

Dr. Etienne will be accompanied during her visit by PAHO Chief of Staff Dr. Merle Lewis and PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana Dr. William Adu-Krow.

A top subject for discussion will be the reconstitution and relaunch of Guyana’s National Non-communicable Diseases Commission, which PAHO/WHO considers especially important since noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for 70% of deaths in Guyana. Other subjects that are expected to be discussed include universal health coverage and health financing, tobacco control legislation, health systems strengthening, human resources in health, and the health of women, adolescents, and older adults.

During her visit, Dr. Etienne is also scheduled to meet with Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Carl Greenidge, Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, and Deputy Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) Dr. Douglas Slater, among others. Her agenda also includes a visit to a health center.

The country cooperation strategy (CCSs) that is expected to be signed is a mutually agreed instrument to guide PAHO’s work in the country. PAHO CCSs, which are developed with each PAHO Member State, are aligned with country priorities and also with the work plans of the World Health Organization (WHO), PAHO, the United Nations and other collaboration platforms, which facilitates an intersectoral approach to priority health problems. The agreements also incorporate core PAHO principles such as the right to health, equity, solidarity and diversity. 

Guyana is one of eight “key countries” where PAHO places greater emphasis on its technical cooperation to ensure that equity gaps are closed.  

About Dr. Etienne

 

official photo of PAHO DirectorDr. Carissa F. Etienne, a native of Dominica, was elected Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on September 2012. From March 2008 until 1 November 2012, Dr. Etienne served as Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Services at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that, as Assistant Director of PAHO from July 2003 to February 2008, she led five technical areas: Health Systems and Services; Technology, Health Care and Research; Health Surveillance and Disease Management; Family and Community Health; and Sustainable Development and Environmental Health.

During her tenures at WHO and PAHO, Dr. Etienne led the efforts to renew primary health care and to strengthen health systems based on primary health care, promoting integration and improved functioning of health systems. She has also spearheaded policy directions for reducing health inequalities and advancing health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership.

 

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PAHO Director to visit Guyana for new country cooperation strategy

Georgetown, Guyana, 5 February 2017 (PAHO/WHO) — The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, plans to visit Guyana from Feb. 5 to 8 to meet with high-level government officials and sign a new strategy for technical cooperation in health.

Her visit will include working meetings and courtesy visits with Prime Minister, Hon. Moses Nagamooto, First Lady Sandra Granger and Minister of Public Health, Hon. Dr. Volda Lawrence and her staff. 

Dr. Etienne will be accompanied during her visit by PAHO Chief of Staff Dr. Merle Lewis and PAHO/WHO Representative in Guyana Dr. William Adu-Krow.

A top subject for discussion will be the reconstitution and relaunch of Guyana’s National Non-communicable Diseases Commission, which PAHO/WHO considers especially important since noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for 70% of deaths in Guyana. Other subjects that are expected to be discussed include universal health coverage and health financing, tobacco control legislation, health systems strengthening, human resources in health, and the health of women, adolescents, and older adults.

During her visit, Dr. Etienne is also scheduled to meet with Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Carl Greenidge, Minister of Finance, Hon. Winston Jordan, and Deputy Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM) Dr. Douglas Slater, among others. Her agenda also includes a visit to a health center.

The country cooperation strategy (CCSs) that is expected to be signed is a mutually agreed instrument to guide PAHO’s work in the country. PAHO CCSs, which are developed with each PAHO Member State, are aligned with country priorities and also with the work plans of the World Health Organization (WHO), PAHO, the United Nations and other collaboration platforms, which facilitates an intersectoral approach to priority health problems. The agreements also incorporate core PAHO principles such as the right to health, equity, solidarity and diversity. 

Guyana is one of eight “key countries” where PAHO places greater emphasis on its technical cooperation to ensure that equity gaps are closed.  

About Dr. Etienne

 

official photo of PAHO DirectorDr. Carissa F. Etienne, a native of Dominica, was elected Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) on September 2012. From March 2008 until 1 November 2012, Dr. Etienne served as Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Services at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to that, as Assistant Director of PAHO from July 2003 to February 2008, she led five technical areas: Health Systems and Services; Technology, Health Care and Research; Health Surveillance and Disease Management; Family and Community Health; and Sustainable Development and Environmental Health.

During her tenures at WHO and PAHO, Dr. Etienne led the efforts to renew primary health care and to strengthen health systems based on primary health care, promoting integration and improved functioning of health systems. She has also spearheaded policy directions for reducing health inequalities and advancing health for all through universal coverage, people-centered care, the integration of health into broader public policies, and inclusive and participatory health leadership.

 

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