Government urged to focus on improving public health

Kathmandu, November 17

Government authorities, lawmakers and stakeholders have underscored the need to focus on improving public health.

Speaking at a multi-sectoral advocacy meeting organised here today, former chief justice Kalyan Shrestha call on the government to focus more on people’s health and less on collecting revenue. “It is the responsibility of the government to control production and consumption tobacco products which kill thousands of people every year,” he said.

Shrestha also said the government should not delay the implementation of 90 per cent pictorial health warning on the packs of tobacco products. This provision stipulated by the law has been challenged by tobacco industries and is sub-judice in the Supreme Court.

Ananda Bahadur Chand, chairperson of Action Nepal, urged the government to make tobacco industries abide by the law. He said pictorial health warning was an  effective tool to make both smokers and non-smokers aware of the health risks associated with tobacco use.

Lawmaker and former health minister Khagaraj Adhikari said the ‘Bloomberg Global Tobacco Control Award’ carrying a purse of Rs 10 million won by Nepal for its bid to control tobacco consumption had become a matter of shame now due to delay in implementation of 90 per cent pictorial health warning.

Lawmaker Ram Narayan Bidari proposed to enact a law which empowered the authorities to take legal action against or disqualify any person holding public position if he/she used tobacco products.

Dr Sushi  lPyakurel, acting secretary at the health ministry, warned that the growing use of tobacco products had also caused adverse impacts on the environment. “Smoking is also responsible for air pollution,” he said. Mahendra Shrestha, chief of Policy and Planning Division at the ministry, said tobacco killed over 25,000 people in Nepal every year.

Dr Bhakta Bahadur KC of the ministry said around five million Nepalis were tobacco users. Chief District Officer of Kathmandu Ram Prasad Acharya and Superintendent of Police Ashok Singh said they were committed to working against public smoking.