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Gov't Lacks Funds to Implement Tobacco Act

According to officials, initially, 1.8 billion Shillings was budgeted to fully implement the law countrywide. However, more than five years since the law was passed, little has been done to reduce the use of tobacco use in the country. Due to the lack of funds, the health ministry has not been able to enforce the law. In addition to this, they cannot hire the necessary staff to help with making regulations to guide the implementation of the law


The ministry of health has not been able to fully implement the Tobacco act due to funding gaps.



According to officials, initially, Shs1.8 billion was budgeted to fully implement the law countrywide. However, more than five years since the law was passed, little has been done to reduce the use of tobacco use in the country.



According to the Tobacco control programme at the ministry of health, the funds were supposed to be used to open up a secretariat, write the Tobacco Control regulation, forming and nationalising the national tobacco control committee, disseminate the tobacco control act and regulations. The money was also supposed to help with enforcement of the law for instance by enabling impounding tobacco-related substances.



Dr Hasfa Lukwata, the Tobacco Control Focal Person at the ministry of health says due to the lack of funding, they have not been able to fully implement the law.



"We have a secretariat but it cannot do a lot since we do not have money to enable it do its work," Lukwata said.




According to Lukwata, due to the funding shortfall, they have had to rely on donor funding which is normally attached to certain aspects of the law. This she says, has helped implement some parts of the law like impounding shisha.



Due to the lack of funds, the health ministry has not been able to enforce the law. In addition to this, they cannot hire the necessary staff to help with making regulations to guide the implementation of the law. In addition to this, they have not been able to make all cigarette companies include health warnings on cigarette packets. 




Today, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate World No Tobacco Day. This year's theme is; 'Commit to Quit.'  A 2013 ministry of health survey estimated that there are 1.5 million tobacco consumers in the country. This figure is however believed to have increased.



Lukwata says quitting for some Ugandans might be hard. She says while some people can stop smoking on their own, others require drugs or counselling to help them. However, due to the lack of funding, these drugs cannot be accessed in government health facilities.



" Some people are unable to stop on their own and need medication to assist them," she said. "However, we cannot provide drugs in our health facilities due to a lack of funds. Even specialised drug and alcohol counsellors are not there. These things can only be found at private facilities or at Butabiika."

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