Abu Dhabi for world tobacco summit
Abu Dhabi, April 4, 2012
The UAE capital has been selected to host, in 2015, the 16th World Conference on Tobacco or Health (WCTOH) – a triennial gathering of international advocacy, public policy and health research experts.
The delegates will work together to achieve the goals of the world’s first public health treaty, the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC).
Globally, tobacco use is a major public health problem, linked to six million deaths each year, according to the WHO. Most of these tobacco-related deaths now occur in low- and middle-income countries, regions that the WCTOH has specifically prioritised for inclusion in the 2015 summit.
“Tobacco use is not just a problem for individual people or nations; it is a collective health responsibility for mankind,” said Dr Wael Al Mahmeed, board member, Emirates Cardiac Society, which collaborated on the bid to host the conference.
“In years to come, we want Abu Dhabi 2015 to be remembered as the place where the world collectively said: ‘enough is enough’.”
The WCTOH will mark its Middle East debut at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) in March 2015, when the five-day conference will convene 3,000 specialists from governmental and non-governmental organisations collaborating on medical, public health, and public policy agendas related to global tobacco control.
Previous WCTOH events have been held in Helsinki, Finland (2003); Washington DC (2006); Mumbai, India (2009); and Singapore, which concluded hosting the 15th summit last month.
Abu Dhabi was selected to host the WCTOH by the unanimous decision of the International Liaison Group on Tobacco or Health (ILGTH), fending off rival bids from seven other countries.
“Our multi-faceted bid brought together so many attributes – from the UAE capital’s prime geographical location, which is easily accessible to delegates, to its philanthropic promise to expand the international reach of the conference,” said Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
Professor Harry Lando, chair of the ILGTH, believes Abu Dhabi can be a genuine turning point in the global fight to control tobacco.
“Commitment is stronger than ever before, but what will be key are evaluating and sharing achievements, failures, obstacles and challenges in Abu Dhabi, in particular those surrounding the implementation of the FCTC,” said Professor Lando. “It is vital that the world takes a unified front to strengthen the international tobacco control network.”
The Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) believes the conference will leave a considerable legacy in preventing new smokers from taking up the habit, and aiding smoking cessation efforts throughout the emirate and wider UAE. Currently 25 per cent of deaths in the UAE are directly linked to smoking-related diseases.
“The use of tobacco is one of the main risks factors of non-communicable diseases, one of the greatest burdens on the economics of health care in many different regions around the world and in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi,” said Mohamed Sultan Al Hameli, chairman, HAAD.
“Hosting this conference in Abu Dhabi is a testament to the interest of the Government of Abu Dhabi to keep up with the latest scientific and international practices in tobacco control and combating tobacco use.”
Zaid Daoud Al Siksek, CEO, HAAD, added: “This conference will bring huge strategic benefits in promoting increased health awareness and bring to the fore our ongoing efforts to alert the local population to the dangers of tobacco use.”
“In addition to the health and economic benefits derived from heightened attention to local, regional, and global tobacco control efforts, the conference is expected to generate considerable direct economic benefits,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service
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