Wednesday, April 17, 2024

TOFAZA Happy With Development of Tobacco Control Data Initiative Website

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The Tobacco Free Association of Zambia – TOFAZA has commended the government through the Ministry of Health with support from Development Gateway for setting up the Tobacco Control Data Initiative Website that will breach the data and evidence gap in the tobacco control policies and implementation.

The Tobacco Free Association of Zambia Youth Coordinator Obby Lubasi stated that with the development of the Tobacco Control Data Initiative Website in Zambia, there organisation is expected to have a national surveillance system that will provide a rich source of reliable information that is critical for achieving effective tobacco control and protecting civil society advocacy in Zambia

Mr Lubasi mentioned that the launch of this website is very timely especially that Zambia is undergoing paradigm shift into a more digital space, adding that effective tobacco control efforts require comprehensive, multi-pronged approaches and strategies, given the power and influence of the tobacco industry in Zambia, tobacco control advocates must continually seek to broaden ways in which to raise awareness of tobacco’s negative medical, social and financial consequences.

He further mentioned that the website provides important strategies which include extensive media campaigns, expanding coalitions within civil society and with Government partners, directly challenging policymakers to publicly justify their opposition to tobacco control or reluctance to make it a priority. Collecting and disseminating solid health data, such as the number of deaths and hospitalizations because of tobacco–related illnesses, and all other data regarding tobacco control will be made easy by this website.

“As Civil Society, we are grateful to Development Gateway for making us a critical player in the development of this website because Civil Society is very cardinal in successful tobacco control efforts. As we strive to take down Goliath (the tobacco industry) and we need a comprehensive and all inclusive approach open to all political, economic, and social issues including health to push for a greater impact on tobacco control in Zambia. And we are grateful to Development Gateway for having an all-encompassing multi-sectoral approach in developing this website,” he said

Mr Lubasi mentioned that the civil society organizations network on tobacco control has since thanked the Development Gateway that works with Sub-Saharan African Governments,on their relentless effort to collect, analyze and use quality national-specific tobacco-related data in coming up with the Tobacco Control Data Initiative Website in Zambia.

Meanwhile, Speaking during the launch of the tobacco control data Zambia dashboard an online platform that will contain data about tobacco control Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Technical Services Dr. Lackson Kasonka said that the website will equip stakeholders across the continuum of cares as well as provide a platform on which to inform policy, civil society, academia and the public with reliable and up-to-date evidence based tobacco control measures.

“The website will also enable decision makers to use essential data to inform tobacco control policy more effectively and objectively,” he said

Dr. Kasonka stated that tobacco consumption has continued to become a source of public health concern as it claims lives of more than 7,000 people in Zambia below the age of 70 every year.

The Minister mentioned that although tobacco control data sources exist, the data is usually only available in silos and not easily accessible stating that the availability of tobacco control-related information remains key when it comes to lobbying and advocating for the enactment of the tobacco control bill among others.

Dr. Kasonka has since called on all cooperating partners, civil society, academia and research institutions to use data resources to inform policy and for strengthening and enforcement of existing tobacco control laws in the country.

And Development Gateway Regional Project Coordinator for West and Central Africa Aminata Camara said that said that the goal behind the creation of the Tobacco Control Data Initiative is to create a one-stop-shop for policymakers, advocates and other stakeholders so that they can all have access to relevant tobacco control data which they use to control, monitor and influence legislations.

“From the survey we recently conducted, it was found that Zambia is among the countries with the highest prevalence of tobacco consumption standing in the range of 70 percent above,” she said

Ms Camara added that the programme will be implemented in Six African countries including Zambia, and other countries are South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC.

And Development Gateway Zambia Country Lead Ms Mbaita explained that the Tobacco Control Data Initiative Website programme has three components that were formulated by conducting an in- depth needs assessment through stakeholders workshops in each country that identified key priorities.

The Tobacco Control Data Initiative Website is a one-stop-shop for data on tobacco that focuses on thematic key areas such as tobacco harm, industry interference, prevalence, taxation and illicit trade.

The Tobacco Control Data Initiative Website is a project developed with support of Development Gateway, an umbrella organisation that is implementing the project, after signing a Memorandum of Understanding – MoU with the Ministry of Health to see how best the two institutions can work together to mitigate the harmful effects of tobacco control in the country through the provision of validated information.

Development Gateway worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health Department of Health Promotion, and the Department of Information Communication and Technology.

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