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WHO To Expand Tobacco Control Efforts In Africa

The WHO announced Friday it was expanding its efforts to control tobacco use in Africa, Reuters/ABC News reports. The agency “said it wanted to stop tobacco from becoming as prevalent in Africa as it is in other parts of the world and would set up a regional hub in 2010 for health experts to work with governments to introduce anti-smoking policies,” the news service writes.

“Experts at the center will work with governments to help them introduce and enforce policies such as smoke-free public places and bans on tobacco advertising and sponsorship for sports and other events” (Kelland, 12/4).

“Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of illness and death,” said Ala Alwan, WHO assistant director-general for noncommunicable diseases and mental health, the Daily Monitor/allAfrica.com reports. “It kills more than 5 million people per year. Unchecked, it will kill more than 8 million people per year by 2030, with more than 80% of those deaths occurring in developing countries,” he said (12/6).

The initiative will be funded, in part, by a $10 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Xinhua reports (12/4).

“Working with governments and partner organizations, we can help in preventing tobacco from gaining the upper hand,” said Douglas Bettcher, director of WHO’s Tobacco Free Initiative, according to the U.N. News Centre (12/4).