The Nigeria Tobacco Control Alliance (NTCA) has called on the federal government to operationalise the tobacco control fund in the interest of Nigerians and their safety.
The alliance made the call at a briefing held in Abuja where members decried the needless delay in operationalizing the Fund.
Participants at the briefing themed ‘Operationalise Tobacco Control Fund’ demanded the immediate setting up of the administrative unit for the Tobacco Control Fund which will help the government to harness available resources for the fight against tobacco use in Nigeria.
In his address, Mr Akinbode Oluwafemi, the board chairman of NTCA stressed the need for the fund to be made operational because of its huge benefit to the country, the citizens, and the country’s health indices.
“The Fund will provide needed resources for the implementing agencies to be able to carry out timely and proactive interventions required for the successful implementation of tobacco control policies in the country.”
Oluwafemi stressed that the fund will help the government prepare against possible interference of tobacco industries and over reliance on the funds that come as Greek gifts.
“There are numerous benefits of the Fund. They include but are not limited to the following: reliable, dedicated, and protected source of funding for specific programs, treatment of tobacco related diseases, and other tobacco control priorities. Eliminate reliance on donor and foreign funding.”
Speaking at the press briefing, Michael Olaniyan, the West African Sub Regional Technical Resource Person, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) said the operationalisation of the funds is critical to saving lives of Nigerians.
“It has become necessary for us to talk about this at this time because the more time we waste not operationalising this fund, the more lives are lost. It has become critical bearing in mind the economic crunch this country is going through and the limits to the budgetary allocation going to the ministry of health as it is always below par”.
Olaniyan said the Tobacco Control Fund will help the Ministry of Health avoid going to the tobacco industry cap-in-hand for support because there is also a limit to support civil societies can give to the ministry.
While stressing that Tobacco Control Fund is a product of the Nigerian law as established by National Tobacco Control Act 2015, Chibuike Nwokorie, the Project Officer of Nigerian Tobacco Control Alliance wondered why the delayed has lasted this long. He said, “this press briefing is to call on the government to implement a law that it created.”
Nwokorie also thanked the media for being a great ally in the journey to rid the country of diseases and deaths associated to the consumption of tobacco and tobacco products.