Uzbekistan unites efforts to effectively control tobacco epidemic

WHO

On the eve of 31 May 2018, World No Tobacco Day, the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan held an interagency round-table discussion dedicated to tobacco and heart disease with support from the WHO Country Office in Uzbekistan.

High-level representatives from Parliament, relevant ministries and government agencies gathered with representatives of nongovernmental organizations and the mass media to engage in political debates on issues related to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and anti-tobacco policy enforcement in Uzbekistan.

According to WHO estimates based on the latest prevalence rates of smoking among adults in Uzbekistan, over 1.4 million (50%) of the 2.8 million current smokers are at risk of premature death due to smoking. This figure may increase in the absence of more intensive anti-tobacco measures.

Dr Lianne Kuppens, WHO Representative to Uzbekistan and Head of the WHO Country Office, stated in her welcoming remarks, “Tobacco control is a priority measure to achieve the global target of a 25% reduction in premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) by 2025, adopted during the United Nations General Assembly.”

“However,” she continued, “achieving another voluntary global target in the WHO European Region regarding a 30% reduction in tobacco use is raising doubts if no rigid measures are taken in this respect. Enforcement of the WHO FCTC is a key factor of success in achieving sustainable development in the area of health and the main principle for this is to leave no one behind!”

First Deputy Minister of Health of Uzbekistan Mr Bakhodir Yusupaliev confirmed that the Government is giving full attention to this matter. This dedication is evident in the country’s draft resolution on approving the national Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) for 2030, which includes 4 important targets:

  • reduce premature mortality from 4 main NCDs by one third;
  • reduce tobacco use by 10%;
  • achieve tobacco-free environments in 100% of public places; and
  • implement the WHO FCTC effectively.

Mr Yusupaliev emphasized: “Taking into account the tobacco burden on public health and the national economy, it is now extremely important to unify the efforts of all sectors, including civil society and every single citizen of the country, to take an active position and to take part in overcoming all barriers to freeing Uzbekistan from tobacco.”

The WHO Country Office also presented international experience and effective tobacco control measures – known as MPOWER measures – implemented in different countries.

In line with the Roadmap of actions to strengthen implementation of the WHO FCTC in the European Region 2015–2025, the Ministry of Health and the WHO Country Office presented a structure for a national roadmap for tobacco prevention and control in 2018–2019.

The event resulted in the establishment of a multisectoral working group to move WHO FCTC implementation forward in Uzbekistan, and to work towards attaining national tobacco-related goals. Wide media coverage attracted interest and support from the population.