WHO event kicks off in India

| November 7, 2016

The seventh Conference of the Parties (CoP7) to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) kicked off today in India.

According to a Press Trust of India story quoting Indian health ministry officials, the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena is the special invited speaker at the conference, which was due to be opened by the India’s Union Health Minister J P Nadda. About 1,500 delegates from about 180 countries are expected to participate in the conference, which is being staged at Greater Noida, a city close to New Delhi, on November 7-12.

India is a huge producer and exporter of leaf tobacco but it is expected that no intimate representative of the hundreds of thousands of farmers involved with tobacco will be allowed to take part in or even observe the CoP7 sessions. And the same will almost certainly apply to the representatives of tobacco farmers in other countries.

Last month, the International Tobacco Growers’ Association (ITGA) accused the WHO of side-lining the tobacco growing industry when making decisions that have an effect on the industry.

ITGA president Francois van der Merwe said the WHO’s FCTC had banned dozens of officials representing tobacco growing countries from participation in CoP7.

“We have been trying to engage the WHO on health matters so that any differences they have with our industry can be resolved,” said van der Merwe.

“We have written to them since 2012 and they haven’t responded in the last four years.”

Van der Merwe said the group wanted the WHO to look beyond health to what he called the significant role that the industry played in job creation, eradicating poverty and paying taxes to governments.

Tobacco earnings contributed nearly 20 percent of the gross domestic product in countries such as Zimbabwe and the crop alone accounted for 40 percent of exports.

“The industry should be supported and be included in the processes that affect them but the governments tend to distance themselves,” said Van der Merwe.

Category: Breaking News

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