Mauritius as the third country in the world along with the Netherlands, after Turkey and Brazil to have successfully achieved all measures according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control guidelines, was celebrated yesterday, during the launching of the ninth WHO Report on The Global Tobacco Epidemic 2023, at the Maritim Resort & Spa, Turtle Bay, Balaclava.
The launching ceremony was performed by the President of the Republic of Mauritius, Mr Prithvirajsing Roopun, in the presence of the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Kailesh Kumar Singh Jagutpal. Other dignitaries including the Minister of Health of Seychelles, Dr Peggy Vidot, and representatives of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), were also present on the occasion.
During his keynote address, President Roopun expressed appreciation to the WHO for its endeavour to help combat the consumption of tobacco, while underpinning the compelling figures regarding the number of deaths related to tobacco consumption, which he emphasised, are a clear call for action.
He rejoiced that Mauritius as a Small Island Developing State, is doing its part and has through its new achievement shown its strong commitment and unwavering determination in addressing the challenges associated with tobacco and its impacts on public health. ‘We are joining hands with the international community to take a firm stand against this global scourge’, added Mr Roopun.
The President moreover recalled that the country has elaborated a National Action Plan for Tobacco Control 2022-26 to further enhance tobacco control measures, strengthen enforcement, scale up cessation services, and reduce smoking among youths. Besides, Government’s determination to achieve the target of reducing the prevalence of tobacco by 30% by 2030 and its commitment to ensure a healthy life and promote wellbeing for everyone, at all ages, were reiterated by President Roopun.
As for Minister Kailesh Jagutpal, he stated that it is a matter of pride for the Republic of Mauritius to join the prestigious list of countries having implemented all the MPOWER measures, while recalling that this year, the Netherlands and Mauritius have been officially recognised as best achievers.
The Minister expressed gratitude towards the WHO FCTC to have recognised all the efforts of the Government of Mauritius in tobacco control, and attributed Mauritius’ feat to the strong political commitment of the Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, and the dedication of his Ministry.
On that note, Dr Kailesh Jagutpal pointed out that the first NCD Survey carried out in 1987 revealed a prevalence of 30.7% in smoking among the population, a prevalence of 19.7% in 2015, and a decrease to 18.3% in 2021.
He dwelt at length on the multiple actions that were undertaken by the country to achieve all the MPOWER measures.
Furthermore, Minister Jagutpal cautioned against the substantial economic burden that tobacco consumption represents as well as the significant healthcare costs for treating the diseases which cause increased morbidity and mortality.
He added that it is crucial that all stakeholders are made aware of the dangers of tobacco use and that they embrace the vision of the Government which is to have a healthy population at all ages.
In addition, the Health Minister announced that it is expected that the new cigarette packets with Plain Packaging that are currently at the design and production stage, will be on the shelves in November this year.
9th WHO Report on The Global Tobacco Epidemic 2023
The Report tracks the progress made by countries in tobacco control since 2008 and, marks 15 years since the introduction of the MPOWER technical package which is designed to help countries implement the demand-reduction measures of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The six MPOWER measures are:
· Monitor tobacco-use and prevention policies;
· Protect people from tobacco use;
· Offer help to quit tobacco use;
· Warn about the dangers of tobacco;
· Enforce bans on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and
· Raise taxes on tobacco.