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India’s Health Minister gets WHO’s special recognition for tobacco control

New Delhi, 30 May 2017 – World Health Organization has conferred Director General’s Special Recognition Award to India’s Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Mr J P Nadda, for his leadership and commitment to advancing tobacco control, while also selecting Ministers of Health for Maldives and Bhutan among five individuals/ institutions from the WHO South-East Asia Region for this year’s World No-Tobacco Day Award.

“Mr Nadda has accelerated India’s tobacco control initiatives, taking bold measures to protect people against multiple health, economic, social and development hazards of tobacco use,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia, said.

India’s recent initiatives include making graphic health warnings covering 85% of all tobacco products mandatory beginning April 2016; establishing National Tobacco Testing Laboratories last year; launching cessation services in 2015, and, as part of this, a National Tobacco Quit line a year ago. These have all been made possible by the strong commitment and focused efforts of the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, the Regional Director said.

Mr Nadda is among the two recipients of the special global award this year. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs of the Republic of the Gambia is the other awardee.

From the WHO South-East Asia Region, Minister of Health for Maldives, Mr Abdullah Nazim Ibrahim, has  been conferred the World No-Tobacco Day Award for promoting tobacco cessation services and launching the anti-tobacco “I Choose Life” campaign last year.

Minister of Health for Bhutan, Mr Tandin Wangchuk, has been selected for the award for implementing measures, as Chairperson of Bhutan’s Narcotic Control Authority, to ban production and sale of tobacco in the country.

A Member of Parliament from Bangladesh, Mr Saber Hossain Chowdhury, has been selected for the World No-Tobacco Award for initiating inclusion of tobacco control in the country’s seventh five year plan in 2015, for sustainable resources for the programme. Strongly advocating for increasing tax on tobacco, Mr Chowdhury has been advocating for tobacco control for sustainable development.

The Chief Executive Officer of Thai Health Promotion Foundation, Dr Supreda Adulyanon, and Sri Lanka’s National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol control are among the others selected for the award from the Region this year.

Commending the contribution of the awardees as well as others, Dr Khetrapal Singh said, “By pursuing tobacco control measures, countries across the Region are striving to advance public health at the same time as accelerating development. Tobacco consumption not only threatens and undermines public health, it has major social, economic and environmental consequences”.

“On World No-Tobacco Day, we must pledge to continue our efforts to strengthen implementation of FCTC, to address tobacco’s threat to public health and sustainable development”, the Regional Director said.

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