centre organized an inaugural workshop, inviting researchers and advocates for the
launch of the SARC-CCT on 15-18th July 2019, in Colombo. On invitation,
the Institute of Public Health, Bengaluru (IPH) was represented & actively participated
in the workshop.
Asian region has some shared history and common challenges of tobacco control
and also offers some unique positive examples (Bhutan, Sri Lanka and India
among others) to the world. This event was a key
gathering of experts, which highlighted the unique insights that SAARC nations can offer in
terms of tobacco control and the importance of close collaboration with other
countries in the region.
Dr. Upendra Bhojani, India Alliance Fellow and Director at IPH, was
invited to participate in a Roundtable discussion hosted by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and World Health Organization, India in Delhi on the 26th July 2019.
The roundtable discussion was attended by subject experts, bureaucrats and
researchers from Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Delhi.
While urbanization offers opportunities for growth and
development, it poses unique challenges for health and health governance. Acknowledging
health as a key component of urban planning and governance by policymakers is
an important step to visualize and translate sustainable urban development into
action. Themes that were broadly discussed over the course of the day include:
The need to strengthen and rationalise existing urban primary health
structures in the context of Ayushman Bharat.
The need for strong financial governance to help minimise
underutilisation of funds.
Lack of effective Monitoring, Surveillance and Accountability systems
among diverse stakeholders.
“Tobacco-free generation” is a proposal wherein children born after a certain year grow up in tobacco free environments, with legislation in place restricting exposure, sale and use of tobacco for that generation. This is potentially a very powerful intervention, that is progressive and strategic in achieving tobacco control. It has been proposed and implemented to various extents in a few countries, including Tasmania and Netherlands. As a strategy it is feasible as it is aimed at overcoming defects with current youth access laws.
Alliance Fellow and Director at IPH, published a video as a part of a 2-day
National Consultation by Generation
Saviour Association (GSA), The Union
and Post Graduate Institute
of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER),
Chandigarh on date
that explains his views on this topic. He explains the issue and argues for its
social, economic and national importance, while shedding light on the ethical
issues that can arise in the context of such interventions.
The video has been uploaded to YouTube and is available for viewing here:
Dr. Upendra Bhojani was invited to participate in a National Consultation on Tobacco and Lung Health organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) country office in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in New Delhi on 31st May 2019 to observe the occasion of World No Tobacco Day (WNTD). The annual World No Tobacco Day is organised by the WHO for advocating for effective policies to reduce tobacco consumption and engaging stakeholders across multiple sectors in the fight for tobacco control. The theme for 2019, “Tobacco and Lung Health” focuses on “the negative impact that tobacco has on people’s lung health, from cancer to chronic respiratory disease and the fundamental role lungs play for the health and well-being of all people.” During the award ceremony, prizes were awarded to acknowledge the work of individuals and organizations in their exceptional efforts toward promoting tobacco control in India. Additionally, scientific documents titled
Tobacco use and Lung Health: From evidence to policy in India
were released during the event, providing an overview of tobacco use and providing multi-pronged recommendations to reduce the burden of tobacco attributable lung diseases in India. An official website dedicated to the National Tobacco Control Program was also launched during the same day.
Several tobacco control advocates joined by some of the IPH staff, honorary associates and adjunct faculties were at Vidhana Soudha (legislative assembly) on 11th January, where Deputy Speaker released the State Factsheet of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2016-17). GATS is considered a robust instrument and provides comparative results with that of the GATS 2009-10. It reminded us of IPH hosting release of GATS (2009-10) inside the Vidhana Soudha.
It was a happy moment to cherish. The GATS (2015-16) factsheet, shows that in the last 7 years, the prevalence of tobacco use in Karnataka has reduced by 5.4 percentage points. This s a relative reduction of 19.1%. More importantly, there has been a reduction (to a tune of 3.1 percentage points) in the prevalence of both smoking and smokeless tobacco. The average age of initiation into tobacco use has gone up from 17.7 years to 19.8 years. Advertising/promotion of tobacco by tobacco industry has gone down substantially, while there is a significant increase in exposure of people to anti-tobacco messages. This is particularly heartening as not many states revealed encouraging results and Karnataka inspite of being a tobacco industry hub has managed to witness such a massive reduction.
While this is an outcome of several individuals and organizations including the strong political will of the state leaders, IPH’s intensive efforts (since 2009) at facilitating policy implementation and policy change is certainly an important part of this story.
As part of his UK visit, Upendra Bhojani of the Institute of Public Health (Bengaluru) visited the Durham University. Prof. Andrew Russell at the Department of Anthropology (Durham University), who has been doing pioneering work in area of tobacco control, facilitated this visit. They exchanged ideas for collaborative work in area of tobacco control including contributions of arts and humanities in enhancing tobacco control. Upendra engaged with collaborators of the ‘life of breath’ project and the Director (Prof. Jane Macnaughton) of the Centre for Medical Humanities at the Durham University.