World ‘No Tobacco’ Day award bestowed on Health Ministry

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, June 30, 2018

The World Health Organisation has recognised Guyana’s efforts, to contribute to tobacco control by presenting the Ministry of Public Health with the World No Tobacco Day award.

On Friday, June 30, a brief awards ceremony was held at the Marriott hotel in celebration of this occasion.

PAHO/WHO Representative to Guyana, Dr. William Adu-Krow was elated to share in this success with the Ministry of Public Health. He said that this is evidence that Guyana is making strides in the Americas to clamp down on health defects as a result of tobacco use.

“…of all the ministries in Latin America and in the Caribbean the only ministry that could have been awarded the World No Tobacco Day award as is the Ministry of Public Health, Guyana,” Dr. Adu-Krow said.

Ministry of Public Health Volda Lawrence took the opportunity to recognise several contributors who made the passage of the tobacco control legislation a success. As well as the current government’s input, Minister Lawrence highlighted the work of former ministers Dr. Leslie Ramsammy and Dr. Bheri Ramsarran.

The minister noted they began the process of tobacco control which gave this current government a head-start in finishing the process. This, she said, now leaves the implementation and effective enforcement. PAHO/WHO was also recognised for the sterling dedication and technical support to the ministry of Public Health.

“Guyana is now positioned as one of the most advanced Caribbean countries in the implementation of the WHO framework convention of Tobacco control and is at the highest level of adherence to three out of the four tobacco control best buys.”

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo received the award on the ministry’s behalf from NCDs and Mental Health Director in Washington, Dr. Anselm Hennis.

The Ministry of Health had met the criteria for the award as outlined by WHO after being nominated earlier in the year. The ministry was nominated in the category of ministries of health and excelled throughout the evaluation process. This achievement was announced by WHO in May 2018 before the observance of World No Tobacco day 2018.

The award comes shortly after the ministry embarked on a campaign to control the use of the tobacco. One major accomplishment in this regard is the successful passage of the tobacco control act in the National Assembly.

Additionally, the government has made a commitment towards drafting policies and regulations to achieve tobacco control. Head of State, President David Granger has also resuscitated the National Commission for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases.

According to information coming from the WHO, the awarded ministry would have had to recently been engaged in “a particular action or series of actions in the area of control at any local, national, regional or international level.” Also, the ministry would have been required to overcome a huge obstacle in achieving the objective for which it was set.

Further, the successful ministry should have also demonstrated outstanding leadership in the approach towards tobacco control. They must also make an outstanding contribution to tobacco control as a crucial measure in rolling back Non-Communicable Diseases.

Every year, WHO recognises individuals or organisations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control. This recognition takes the form of WHO Director-General Special Recognition Award and World No Tobacco Day Awards.

By: Delicia Haynes

Images: Kawise Wishart