Sri Lanka Health Minister to leave for New York and Geneva to attend international conferences on NCDs and tobacco control

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Sri Lanka’s Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne will be attending two major international health conferences in New York and Geneva this month.

Minister Senaratne will leave the island for New York on Saturday (Sept 22) to take part in the World Conference on Tuberculosis and the high-level segment on Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) that will be held in parallel with the United Nations General Assembly.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who will be in New York next week to participate in the UN General Assembly will also attend the two health conferences.

The conference on Tuberculosis Control will be held on the 26th and the Non-Communicable Diseases Control Conference will be held on the 27th.

Member States and observers of the General Assembly will present the measures they have taken to control Tuberculosis and NCDs at the respective conferences.

The Sri Lankan Health Minister is scheduled to deliver a lecture on the government’s program of controlling non-communicable diseases at the summit.

Following the conference in Mew York, the Health Minister will attend the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control held in Geneva, Switzerland from October 1-6.

The Health Minister has already taken all necessary steps to fulfill the six conditions stipulated in the International Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Sri Lanka has fulfilled all the conditions except for the condition banning single cigarette sales and the Minister is scheduled to apprise the international Community of the progress the country has made in tobacco control.

Among the measures taken by the government to control tobacco consumption are increasing pictorial warnings on cigarette packets to 80%, increasing tobacco taxes up to 90%, prohibition of advertising cigarettes, prohibiting smoking in public places, setting up smoking zones, and Introduction of alternative crops to farmers instead of tobacco.

In future, the Health Minister will also bring legislation for the introduce cigarette packets under the plain packaging system for tobacco products.

Sri Lanka is the only country among the South East Asian nations that has legalized 90 percent of the conditions under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Sri Lanka is also the first South East Asian country that signed the WHO FCTC.

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