W.H.O. recognises society's tobacco control advocacy

By Seia Lavilavi Soloi 31 May 2021, 2:00PM

The work of the Samoa Cancer in highlighting the dangers of tobacco consumption and its link to cancer has been recognised by the World Health Organisation.

The W.H.O. Senior Officer and Head of W.H.O. Country Office, Dr Baoping Yang, praised the work of the society in a letter to the organisation and said every year the W.H.O. recognises individuals and organisations in each of the six W.H.O. regions for their accomplishments in tobacco control.

The recognition coincides with the global World No Tobacco Day celebrations and this year the theme was ‘commit to quit’ and helping those who want to quit tobacco use.

For the Western Pacific region, Samoa was among five other countries selected including Australia, the People’s Republic of China, Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of the Philippines.

According to Dr Baoping, the award selection process was initiated at the W.H.O. Regional Officer for the Western Pacific, and the regional nominees were shortlisted based on their contributions made to tobacco control, particularly in the area of tobacco occasion.

The shortlist organisations and individuals was approved by the Regional Director Dr Takeshi Kasai, followed by the W.H.O. Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom with the final awardees announced on 24 May 2021.

The S.C.S. was recognized for its strong advocacy, outreach and awareness raising activities. Through their campaign and community outreach it also alert the public about the dangerous of tobacco cultivation, manufacturing use as well as tobacco industry interference while raising awareness on cessation services.

Their support and advocacy was crucial for the recent progress made by the Ministry of Health, such as the National Tobacco Control Committee and the 2019 amendments to the Tobacco Control Act. 

Following the recognition of the M.O.H in 2015 for the same award, Dr Yang added: "I hoped that this news will add further momentum to the tobacco control in Samoa. 

"I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the country’s strong commitment in tobacco control and we look forward to continue working with you in the fight against tobacco."

S.C.S. Chief Executive Officer Su’a Ryan Leota, upon receiving the letter, congratulated his team at the society for their ongoing efforts to date which is being recognised globally through the W.H.O. Award.

“Advocacy and initiatives towards tobacco control still requires more urgent, concerted and deliberate commitment from relevant stakeholders at all levels to strengthen the message nationwide," he said.

"The alarming rate of smokers and light smokers affected by tobacco related type cancer in the Western Pacific Region means Samoa need to take action now."

Su’a then referred to a recent study by Australian organisation Daffodil Centre, where one of their findings showed that "tobacco smoking significantly increased risk for cancers of the lung, larynx liver, oesophagus, bladder, pancreas, head and neck, stomach and other include cancers of unknown primary site."

The S.C.S. has over the years registered patients diagnosed with or died due to one type cancer mentioned in the research. 

The extent of the advocacy work done to date by S.C.S has been inspired by witnessing first hand one in four Samoans impacted unnecessarily by tobacco use.

The society then appealed for everyone to commit-quit and expressed its appreciation for the W.H.O World No Tobacco Day Award which recognised the patients, their stakeholders, supporters and the people of Samoa.

By Seia Lavilavi Soloi 31 May 2021, 2:00PM
Samoa Observer

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