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ANCT-TL reinforces Timor-Leste’s policy in preventing non-communicable diseases

ANCT-TL reinforces Timor-Leste’s policy in preventing non-communicable diseases

The National Alliance for Tobacco Control in Timor-Leste (ANCT-TL) are posing together, on behalf of, the national workshop to strengthen and reinforce the government’s policy in combating non-communicable diseases (NCDs), focusing on the major risk factor: tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy diets. Tatoli’s image//Egas Cristovão

DILI, 24 march 2022 (TATOLI) – The National Alliance for Tobacco Control in Timor-Leste (ANCT-TL) realized a workshop to strengthen and reinforce the government’s policy in combating non-communicable diseases (NCDs), focusing on the major risk factor: tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy diets.

The Director of ANCT-TL, Sancho Fernandes.Tatoli’s image//Egas Cristovão

The Director of ANCT-TL, Sancho Fernandes said it is important for the government to consider the major risk factors contributing to non-communicable disease in Timor-Leste Strategic Development Plan.

“It’s time for the government to consider such major risk factors in Timor-Leste Strategic Development Plan to reduce tobacco use in the country,” Fernandes told reporters at the workshop held at the Ministry of Social, Solidarity, and Inclusion (MoSSI) hall, in Dili, today.

He said according to official data of the Guido Valadares National Hospital (HNGV), NCDs claim more than 1.000 lives in Timor-Leste every year, of which 20% died at their productive age: “It’s a public health issue and Government’s immediate intervention is needed.”

“The Government of Timor-Leste needs to establish a National Tobacco Control Body to be responsible for overall policy formulation, and tobacco control in the country,” Fernandes emphasized.

“We want a tax increase that increases more tobacco prices to decrease tobacco consumption to achieve our vision of Healthy Timorese citizens living in a healthy Timor-Leste.”

In december 2021, during his presentation of the 2022 General State Budget (GSB) at the National Parliament, Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak said that the government under his leadership was committed to moving forward in introducing an “inhibitor” excise tax, which will not only increase domestic revenue but will also benefit the health of Timorese people, especially the younger generation, by increasing the price of tobacco and alcohol.

Thus, the excise tax rate applicable to malt beer with an alcohol content of less than 4.5 percent is increased from US$2.50 to US$2.70 per liter, and the excise tax rate applicable to malt beer with other alcohol content, as well as wine, vermouth, and other fermented beverages, is increased from US$3.50 to US$4.50 per liter.

“In order to discourage the consumption of tobacco, a highly unhealthy product, it is planned to increase the excise tax rate applicable to tobacco from the current US$19 per kilogram to US$25 per kilogram, an increase that the National Parliament suggested to the Government in 2020,” said Ruak.

Small island countries often have high rates of tobacco use. Among the 20 countries in the world with high tobacco use rates, five of them are small island developing countries: Kiribati (52%), Nauru (52%), Tuvalu (49%), Solomon Islands (38%) and Timor-Leste (38%).

At the same place, the Deputy Director of Civil Society Support Service and Social Audit (SASCAS), Daniel dos Santos informed that SASCAS would cooperate with the Civil Society to monitor the implementation of the government policy in controlling tobacco use in the country.

“SASCAS would keep supporting ANCT-TL to strengthen its advocacy in contributing to the implementation of the Government’s Decree-Law on Tobacco Control (Article 5, 6, and 7) to ban citizens from smoking in the public space, public transport, public buildings, etc,” he said.

As one of the key speakers at the workshop, Timorese young cardiologist, Herculano Seixas dos Santos, called on communities to prevent themselves from non-communicable diseases, including heart attack and other related heart diseases.

“There are several ways you can reduce your risk of developing coronary heart diseases (CHD), such as lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. So, you need to eat a healthy, and balanced diet, be more physically active, keep to a healthy weight, give up smoking, reduce your alcohol consumption and keep your blood pressure under control,” Santos explained.

A non-communicable disease (NCD) is a disease that is not transmissible directly from one person to another. NCDs include Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune diseases, strokes, most heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, and others.

Globally, NCD deaths are projected to increase by 15% between 2010 and 2020 (to 44 million deaths) with an estimated 10.4 million deaths in South-East Asia. Of particular concern is the high level of premature mortality from NCDs (deaths before 70 years of age) in several low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), according to WHO.

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) — mainly cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, and cancer — are top killers in the South-East Asia Region, claiming an estimated 8.5 million lives each year.

Related news:WHO lauds the decline in tobacco use in Asia

Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Rafy Belo

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