|Press Release WHA/2
17 May 1999
SOUTH AFRICAN HEALTH MINISTER RECEIVES WHO HEALTH AWARD FOR WORK ON TOBACCO CONTROL
Dr. Nkozasana Dhlamini Zuma, Health Minister of South Africa was honoured by the world's premier health agency in Geneva today for her ground- breaking work in the field of tobacco control.
Presenting the ''Tobacco Free World Award'' to Dr. Zuma, the World Health Organisation's Director General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland said South Africa's efforts to rein in the tobacco industry and focus on controlling the tobacco pandemic would send a clear message to the rest of the world that tobacco deaths are an unnecessary burden of disease on individuals and countries.
''We congratulate you on your work you have strenghtened our hands and given hope to many countries'' Dr. Brundtland said as she handed over the certificate to Dr. Zuma.
Receiving the Award, Dr. Zuma said, "This honour will give us encouragement to continue with our efforts to protect the people and especially the children of South Africa against the hazards posed by tobacco consumption."
South African President Nelson Mandela recently signed legislation developed by Dr. Zuma that will protect children from tobacco advertising and exposure to tobacco smoke. The country's new tobacco laws also prohibit smoking in public places and ban all forms of materials that promote tobacco.
As they developed their national legislation, South African health officials said, it became clear to them that they were involved in a public-health driven process that touched on all aspects of people's lives.
WHO regards tobacco use as one of the greatest public health threats of the 21st century. Although tobacco use is decreasing in the developed world, consumption is rising steeply in developing countries where an estimated 48% of men and 7% of women smoke.
WHO also estimates that one-third of the global adult population, or 1.1 billion people, use tobacco which is known to cause 25 different diseases that kill four million people annually. The toll is projected to rise to ten million by 2030.
Tobaco control features prominently in the first report issued Monday by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland since she assumed office as WHO Director General a year ago.
The World Health Report 1999: Making a Difference advocates four principles which outline a road-map for national and global action against tobacco. They include public health information combined with advertising bans, taxes and legislation, the encouragement of smoking cessation programmes and the building of tobacco coalitions.
One of Dr. Brundtland's first action in taking office was the launching of the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) to focus global attention, efforts and resources on international tobacco control.
The goals of TFI are : to galvanise evidence-based tobacco control polices, build new and strengthen existing partnerships for action; accelerate the implementation of national, regional and global strategies, and mobilize resources to support required action.
For further information, journalists can contact Mrs Chitra Subramanian, Tobacco Free Initiative, WHO, Geneva. Telephone (41 22) 791 3271. Fax (41 22) 791 4769/4775. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org:email@example.com
All WHO Press Releases, Fact Sheets and Features as well as other information on this subject can be obtained on Internet on the WHO home pagehttp://www.who.ch/