New solutions urgently needed to tackle smoking worldwide: experts to convene in Poland at the Global Forum on Nicotine

GFN23

Tobacco harm reduction can hasten an end to smoking-related death and disease. Copyright-free photo by Mathew MacQuarrie on Unsplash.

WARSAW, Poland, June 19, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — International public health specialists, scientists, doctors, regulators, consumers and manufacturers are convening this week in the Polish capital to discuss new ways of tackling global smoking-related death and disease. Over four days, 70 speakers and hundreds of delegates at the tenth annual Global Forum on Nicotine (21 – 24 June) will focus on tobacco harm reduction, which encourages adults who cannot quit smoking to switch to safer nicotine products.

Despite decades of tobacco control efforts, a billion people still smoke worldwide, with eight million smoking-related deaths each year. Four in five smokers live in low- and middle-income countries, least able to cope with the resulting burden of disease, and smoking is a major cause of health inequalities in higher income countries. The thousands of toxins released when tobacco burns cause smoking-related diseases, not nicotine, which is a comparatively low-risk substance.

Vapes (e-cigarettes), pasteurised snus, nicotine pouches and heated tobacco products enable people to use nicotine without burning tobacco, significantly reducing health risks compared to continued smoking. Global estimates suggest 112 million people use these products, despite inconsistent regulation and outright prohibition in some countries. Smoking prevalence is falling faster where these products are available and appropriately regulated, such as in the UK, Sweden, Japan and New Zealand.

GFN23 will tackle the opportunities and challenges of tobacco harm reduction, including the development of regulatory systems that enable adult smokers to access safer products, while reducing youth uptake. Open to all, free live-streamed sessions from the event, translated from English to Spanish and Russian, will cover the last decade of science around safer nicotine products and their efficacy in smoking cessation, the environmental impact of safer products in comparison to combustible cigarettes and the detrimental impact of moral stances and ideology on science and regulation.

While it supports harm reduction for HIV/AIDS prevention and substance use, the World Health Organization opposes harm reduction for tobacco. Ibero-American experts at GFN23 will discuss the upcoming WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control COP10 in Panama this November, where decisions on the future of safer nicotine products may have grave implications for global public health.

Ahead of GFN23, Gerry Stimson, Emeritus Professor at Imperial College London and the event’s co-founder, called for international tobacco control leaders to adopt rational and pragmatic approaches that prioritise saving lives: “Ideology must be set aside and people must be supported to quit by all available means.”

The Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN) is the only international conference to focus on the role of safer nicotine products that help people switch from smoking, in an approach called tobacco harm reduction. Find out more and register to watch online sessions free at https://gfn.events/

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/feaca847-b6e8-4140-9da8-e5658737df26

Ruth Goldsmith, GFN23 Communications Lead
ruth@gfn.events
https://gfn.events/

GlobeNewswire Distribution ID 1000825970

Tema Fuel Company marks World Environment Day with a clean-up

Tema Fuel Company (TFC) has organized a clean-up exercise at Kpone Laloi Beach in the Kpone-Katamanso municipality to beat plastic pollution.

The exercise forms part of the TFC’s commemoration of 2023 World Oceans Day, which seeks to remind everyone of the major role the oceans have in everyday life.

The ocean is ascribed to being the lungs of our planet, a major source of food and medicine, and a critical part of the biosphere.

The purpose of the day was to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilise and unite the world’s population on a project for the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.

Mr. Samuel Kwabla Alorvor, TFC Head of Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Sustainability, stated in his welcome address that the environment needed to be protected from plastic pollution and all other pollution.

He said TFC decided to merge the commemoration of World Environment Day 2023 with World Oceans Day through the clean-up exercise at Kpone Laloi Beach to send a strong signal to the world of the need to protect the ocean and the environment.

‘We are using this platform to raise awareness among people to protect the environment and the ocean,’ he stated, noting that the misconception that this man-made material will harmlessly go away, the addiction to single-use plastic, and the lack of plastic waste management have resulted in a global epidemic of plastic pollution.

He revealed the theme for this year’s World Environment Day, ‘Beat Plastic Pollution,’ and their focus was on plastic pollution along the coastal areas in Kpone.

He said, ‘Plastic waste is currently the most abundant type of litter in the ocean, making up about 80 per cent of all marine debris in the oceans and environment at large’.

Mr. Alorvor added that, if proper control measures are not taken, by the end of the year 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our seas.

‘It has therefore become imperative that we tackle and combat these worrying trends of plastic pollution, which is causing havoc in our water bodies and even our lands; educating and enlightening people about plastic pollution and its harmful effects on our environment is key’, he noted.

Mr. Emmanuel Acheampong, Health, Safety, Security, and Environment Officer at TFC, also added that biodiversity was essential for the well-being of humans because we depend so much on it for food and other sources.

He added that, as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility, the company would try to support the community with some of their needs.

Ms. Petrina Nyann, TFC Human Resource Manager, also presented some dust bins to the assemblyman and noted that it was the support the company was giving to the assembly to put them at a vantage point along the beach area and the theme for World Environment Day, which focused on solutions to plastic pollution under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution, served as a reminder that people’s actions on plastic pollution matter.

Mr. Wat William Attiapa, Assemblyman of Dengla electoral area at Kpone, appreciated the support of the TFC and called on other organizations to also assist the community.

He appealed to companies around Kpone and its environment to also support the town and beach area.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Stop sponsoring fossil fuel projects in Africa – Coalition of NGOs in Africa

African NGOs working for Just Energy Transition have asked financial institutions to stop bankrolling ongoing fossil fuel projects in Africa.

They said fossil fuels projects did not only contribute to climate change but also had severe negative impacts on local communities and ecosystems.

This was made known to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Monday in a press release signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Abibinsroma Foundation, Nana Kenneth Amoateng, on behalf of the coalition of NGOs in Africa, citing Afreximbank’s financing of fossil fuel projects in Africa.

‘In as much as Afreximbank’s efforts in accelerating trade and investments across Africa through financial boosts and making the continent competitive in world trade, however, the bank should put a stop to supporting fossil fuel projects that pose a threat to environmental conservation, human rights, and sustainable energy transition on the continent.’ Mr. Amoeteng suggested.

According to the release, the bank’s 2021 Annual Report indicated that approvals to the oil and gas sector rose from US$2.41 billion in 2020 to US$2.45 billion in 2021, accounting for 16.4 per cent of total approvals.

This situation is critical, the release said, because Afreximbank’s support for fossil fuel projects contravened Article 2.1(c) of the Paris Agreement, which encouraged companies to finance projects consistent with a pathway towards low Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and climate-resilient developments.

The coalition of NGOs therefore said, that, ‘If the investment initially intended for these fossil fuel projects were redirected to solar PV, it could cover more than a quarter of the cost of all Africa’s solar PV capacity additions to 2025.’

This is even so considering the fact that Africa’s energy potential, especially renewable energy, is enormous, yet only a fraction of it is currently being employed, not to talk about the potential of solar, biomass, wind, and geothermal energy.

Yet, as the release said, the fossil fuel projects Afreximbank financed in Nigeria, Mozambique, and East Africa had had significant socioeconomic impacts, including land grabbing, displacement, loss of livelihoods, increased poverty, and gender-related issues such as teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence.

‘Local conflicts, militarization, and instability; environmental issues like land and water pollution, biodiversity loss, and the disruption of vital ecosystems directly undermine progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDGs 1, 5, 8, 10, 14, 15, and 16,’ they added.

They asked Afreximbank to take a clue from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for its commitment to green and sustainable development in Africa with the recent launch of the African Green Financial Initiative demonstrating the Bank’s recognition of the urgent need to transition towards renewable energy and low-carbon development pathways.

The Coalition urged Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah, Chairman of Afreximbank, to sign the Glasgow Statement which called for a global effort to phase out subsidies and public support for fossil fuels and join other financial institutions in committing to end support for fossil fuel projects.

‘By signing the Glasgow Statement, Afreximbank can send a powerful message to the international community, demonstrating its commitment to a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable Africa. It will also encourage other African financial institutions to take similar steps and accelerate the transition towards a renewable energy future,’ said Samuel Okulony, Director Environment Governance Institute Uganda.

The coalition of NGOs observed that they understood that transitioning away from fossil fuels posed challenges, particularly in terms of economic considerations and energy security.

But the long-term benefits of investing in renewable energy far outweighed the short-term gains of fossil fuel projects, because renewable energy sources were not only cleaner and more sustainable, they also provided greater opportunities for job creation, poverty alleviation, and inclusive economic growth.

Among other things, they asked the bank to stop all plans to provide financial support for fossil fuel projects, including natural gas, and associated activities in Africa, and make a public announcement of this decision.

They also required that Afreximbank set an aspirational goal of helping the continent achieve universal electricity access by 2030 with a strong focus on encouraging clean and renewable energy solutions.

The bank was also to develop a new energy policy that will prioritize partnerships for clean energy development, mobilize domestic and international capital for innovative financing in Africa’s clean energy development and climate financing, and invest in clean energy projects that focus on regional integration of the power sector.

Other members of the coalition included Alliance for Empowering Communities, Ghana, Environment Governance Institute, Uganda, and Friends of the Earth, Togo.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Borteyman-Motorway Road to be completed ahead of African Games – Minister

Construction work on the School Junction-Borteyman-Motorway Road Project will be completed before the 13th All African Games to be hosted in Ghana in March 2024, Mr Kwasi Amoako-Attah, the Minister of Roads and Highways, has assured.

The 5.8-kilometre Project, which commenced in June 2022, is expected to improve road connectivity and access to the Borteyman Sports Complex, one of the facilities to be used for the African Games.

The project consists of a 5.8km dual-lane main carriageway (43.66m lanes) with asphaltic concrete pavement surface; an additional 5.8km single service lane with 2×6m lanes with asphaltic concrete pavement surface, and the construction of walkways and cycling lanes on both sides of the road.

Mr Amoako-Attah together with some Heads and Directors of the Ministry of Roads and Highways on Monday, June 19, 2023, inspected the progress of work on the Project.

The Minister also inspected the progress of work on the construction of a flyover over the Tema Motorway from the Flowerpot Roundabout on Spintex Road.

Both projects were progressing steadily as of the time of the visit.

At the Borteyman-Motorway Road Project, Mr, James Amoo-Gottfried, the Director of the Department of Urban Roads, told journalists that work was about 70 per cent complete and would be fully completed by the end of the year.

‘We have done about 70 per cent of the original work and asphalting is ongoing on the main road. We are doing the merging and diversion to and from the motorway right now,’ he said.

Mr Amoako-Attah applauded the Oswal Investments Group, the local contractor executing the Project for the ‘competent and efficient’ work done and delivering ahead of schedule.

He directed the contractors to put all safety measures in place along the motorway to guarantee the safety of motorists during the construction period.

‘The expansion of the motorway will begin pretty soon. We have to make sure that all safety concerns are taken care of,’ Mr Amoako-Attah said.

The Minister said there would be as many as four interchanges on the Motorway as part of the expansion work to ease traffic flow.

At the Flowerpot flyover Project, Mr Emmanuel Dogbotse, the Resident Engineer, told the Minister that the last of seven piers was under construction and would be completed in four weeks.

He said the team was working assiduously to ensure that the whole bridge would be completed by the end of the year.

‘Luckily, we have managed to do the piers so the beams will come smoothly and hopefully by December, we expect to construct the whole girder from the beginning to the end to East Legon,’ he said.

Mr Amoako-Attah said he was satisfied with the ‘tempo’ of work and charged the contractors to work to minimise the congestion around the construction zones especially around the peak hours.

‘We plead with the public to be tolerant and bear with us as we go through the construction period,’ he said.

The project, which originally started in March 2017, has a revised completion date of Dec 31, 2023, from March 16, 2019, and an intended final takeover period of December 31, 2024.

The revised contract sum for the project is GH?284.6 million, according to the Ministry.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Government must watch out for shortfalls in IMF programme – IFS

The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS), a policy think tank, has asked the Government to pay attention to limitations of the current International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme and find ways to circumvent them.

While commending the IMF programme for suggesting proposals to strengthen Fiscal Responsibility Act, review government flagship programmes, among others, IFS warned that the programme had shortfalls that could be inimical to the country’s economic development.

Highlighting the limitations of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) programme at a press briefing in Accra, Dr Said Boakye, Acting Executive Director of IFS, noted that the effort to improve revenue mobilisation under the programme overly relied on taxes.

‘Over reliance on taxation is certain to hurt businesses and industries, and ultimately harm the economy’s competitiveness and long-term growth potential,’ he said, urging the governmentconsider improving its earnings in the extractive sector as part of the medium-term revenue mobilisation strategy under the programme.

Dr Boakye said going forward, active state participation or production sharing arrangement should be the model for agreements between government and private sector in the extractive sector.

‘We at IFS strongly believe that any review that results in a continuous reliance on royalty-tax approach under concession arrangement will not lead to any significant revenue inflows to the government of Ghana in the long run,’ Dr Boakye said.

The Institute also identified the policy of introducing a more flexible exchange rate regime by getting rid of the Bank of Ghana (BOG)’s export surrender requirements as a limitation of the IMF programme.

Dr Boakye explained that the surrender requirements policy had presented an appropriate back-door approach to guarantee, which some of the limited foreign exchange from export proceeds was retained to strengthen the cedi.

‘The dominance of multinationals in Ghana’s extractive sector means that they control a sizeable proportion of export proceeds, limiting foreign exchange inflows to the country from these exports.

‘Until this situation is remedied, it is necessary that the BoG adopts measures, such as the export surrender requirements, to secure foreign exchange inflows to help defend the cedi and build up its foreign reserves,’ he said.

The IFS also warned that in adhering to the programme requirement that prohibited the Central Bank from financing the government, care must be taken not to do away with the role of BOG as a lender of last resort.

IFS called on the government to shoot down the suggestion of adjusting fuel levies in line with inflation or exchange rate hikes to raise more revenue.

Dr Boakye said the introduction of such a policy could create a vicious cycle of higher fuel prices leading to increased inflation, bearing in mind the impact of fuel on inflation

‘Adjusting fuel levies in line with inflation, which is bound to raise fuel prices also in line with inflation, will feed back into inflation, requiring further raise in the fuel levies, thereby creating a vicious cycle of higher and higher fuel prices and thus worsening inflation/macroeconomic instability in Ghana.

‘Similarly, since exchange rate depreciation usually causes fuel and other prices to rise, leading to inflation, adjusting fuel levies in line with currency depreciation will further raise fuel prices generating more inflation,’ he explained.

The policy think tank also raised concerns over the slow speed of external debt restructuring under the programme, which it said, ‘has not been given the urgency it deserves’.

It observed that external debt component of Ghana’s public debt had serious exchange rate implications, which could trigger macro-economic instability.

‘We expected the government and it’s IMF/World Bank partners to pay greater attention to the restructuring of external debt,’ the think tank said.

Source: Ghana News Agency

GhaFFaP calls for multi-stakeholders’ approach to mitigate drought, desertification

The Ghana Federation of Forest and Farm Producers (GhaFFaP) has called for multi-stakeholders’ approach, as part of viable measures to address desertification and drought and mitigate climate change.

This was in a statement copied to the Ghana News Agency by Ms Lydia Miyella, the Chairperson of the Women Champion Wing Lead of GhaFFaP on behalf of GhaFFaP Savanna Ecological Zone (Ghana) to mark this year’s ‘World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought’.

This year’s Desertification and Drought Day, marked on June 17, is putting the global spotlight on women’s land rights on the theme, ‘Her Land. Her Rights: Advancing Gender Equality and Land Restoration Goals’.

The statement appealed to all Forest and Farm Producer Organizations especially women dominated (FFPOs), Governments, Environmental Stakeholders, Academia, Research Institutions, Customary Landowners, Development Partners, Private Sector players, the Media and the public to prioritise the issues of Desertification and Drought.

‘According to GhaFFaP, desertification and drought is a global environmental challenge that continues to pose a greater threat to the survival of many households especially in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)’, it stressed.

The statement observed that globally, rural women farmers faced significant barriers in securing land rights, limiting their ability to thrive and prosper, adding that when land becomes degraded and water becomes scarce for a long period of time, more women are often the worst affected in terms of agricultural productivity and livelihood options.

‘Again, the Rural Women farmers, who constitute nearly half of the world’s agricultural labour force, hold a vital stake in the health and integrity of the land, yet they often don’t have control over it’, it emphasized.

It stressed that land continued to be the most critical economic and environmental resource for most rural women farmers, especially those who depended on subsistence agriculture for their daily livelihoods.

‘GhaFFaP believes that investing in women’s equal access to land is a direct investment in securing their future livelihoods and the future of humanity. Since we all cannot fight the desertification and drought without the inclusion of women and youth’, the statement stressed.

It assured that GhaFFaP would continue to pursue gender-centred global land restoration and drought resilience initiatives by deliberately putting women and youth at the forefront and called on stakeholders to join the crusade in fighting desertification and draught.

It stated that GhaFFaP had in place many initiatives and strategies aimed at advancing the policies and legislation for women’s meaningful participation in decision-making processes related to land at grassroots, zonal and national levels, to transform land administration systems and access to justice, to make them gender responsive and also turn climate change challenges within the savanna ecological zone into integrated landscape production opportunities.

‘GhaFFaP is fully committed to supporting Forest and Farm Producer Organizations (FFPOs) especially women dominated FFPOs in advancing women’s equal access to land and tenure security, with the strong partnerships across governments, farmer associations, other civil society Groups, academia, Research institutions and the private sectors’, it indicated.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Avoid cold water, weather conditions-Sickle cell patients told

The Ghana Institute of Medical Genetics on Monday observed the World Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) Day with a call on sickle cell patients to desist from walking in fog, rain and avoid cold water.

An 81-year-old sickle cell patient, Madam Rebecca Agyei Tettey, who gave the advice at an open day held in Accra to create awareness on the disease, said sickle cell patients must bath warm water and cover up properly when the weather was cold to avoid breaking down.

She said the myth that sickle cell patients died early was untrue, saying ‘sickle cell patients are intelligent and healthy people, all you need to do is to adopt healthy lifestyles that work for you’.

‘I have been able to live long and healthy because I attend my clinic session regularly, monitor my diets. I don’t swim in the sea, and I urge young persons living with this disease to do same,’ she said.

Madam Tettey also urged sickle cell patients to live freely, and not bottle up hurts as that could kill them slowly.

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders.

Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen.

Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body.

Experts say there is some abnormality in the hemoglobin of people with SCD, which causes the red blood cells to become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a ‘sickle’.

The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. When they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow.

This disease causes pain and other serious complications such as infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke.

Dr Amma Benneh Akwasi Kumah, Director of Ghana Institute of Clinical Genetics, called on the government and the public to support sickle cell patients in their treatment journey.

She described SCD as inherited and life prone and that people living with it needed support not stigmatisation.

Dr Kumah said early detection was key to avoid complications and improve care for all.

Dr Vandyke Sey, Head of Department at the Korle Bu Polyclinic, said Ghana needed to be more concerned about patients living with SCD, and called for the expansion of treatment facilities.

‘When it comes to management of the disease, we have realised that most patients on admission do not have the money to pay to group and cross match blood and some even need to get donors before they are transfused, and this is a challenge,’ she said.

Rev. Mercy Edu Gyamfi, a mother of two girls living with SCD, entreated parents with SCD children to seek early medical care and learn about the disease.

She encouraged all SCD patients to continue taking their medications and avoid eating too much oily food, which could be dangerous to their health.

The World Sickle Cell Disease Day is observed annually on June 19 with the goal to increase public knowledge and an understanding of SCD, and the challenges experienced by patients and their families and caregivers.

The Theme for this year’s celebration is: ‘Improving Sickle Cell Disease care for all.’

Source: Ghana News Agency

President leaves Ghana Spain, France and the UK

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Monday left Ghana on a six-day working visit to Spain, France and the United Kingdom.

The President is billed to participate in the Aqaba Process meeting on West Africa and the Sahel in Cordoba, Spain on Tuesday, June 20, 2023.

His participation in the meeting- an initiative against terrorism- is at the joint invitation of the king of Spain, Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso VI, and the monarch of Jordan, Abdullah II Bin Al-Hussein.

From Spain, President Akufo-Addo will join other heads of state and governments in Paris, France, on June 23, 2023, at the invitation of the French President, Emmanuel Macron, to participate in the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact.

The two-day Summit is aimed at building a new consensus to meet the interlinked global targets of tackling poverty, curbing planet-heating emissions and protecting nature.

The President will leave France for the United Kingdom on June 23, 2023, for a private visit.

He was accompanied by the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Kwaku Afriyie, and officials of the Presidency.

President Akufo-Addo is expected back in Ghana on Saturday, June 24, 2023.

Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia will act in his stead.

Source: Ghana News Agency