Affordable and quality healthcare for the elderly and the disabled is a moral and legal imperative, which has been reflected in the Republic of Palaus Constitution and the National Healthcare Financing Act. On 17 February 2016, the Honorable Palau President Remengesau signed the law RPPL 9-57, which allocates ten percent of the revenues derived from import tax on alcoholic beverages and excise tax on tobacco to pay for the healthcare coverage subscription costs of non-working citizens who are either over the age of 60 or disabled. Additionally, the bill allocates ten percent of revenues acquired from this tax to fund the newly established Non-Communicable Disease Fund.
Dedicating resources for NCD programmes, including tobacco control are also in line with the requirements of Article 26 of the Convention and with the recommendations of the guidelines for implementation of Article 6 of the Convention, that is aimed to assist Parties in their implementation of tax and price measures.
This move will ensure sustainable funding for the Palau National Coordinating Mechanism (CM) that acts as a forum coordinating implementation of the WHO FCTC in Palau, in line with Article 5.2(a) of the Convention.
This body was established in May 2015 through Executive Order 379. It is a Committee of government, semi-government, ministries, agencies, civil society organizations and private sector that will facilitate and coordinate efforts to combat the occurrences and impacts of Non-Communicable Disease in the Republic of Palau. The CM has been proposed and promoted during the WHO FCTC needs assessment, which was jointly undertaken by the Secretariat of the WHO FCTC and the Government of Palau on 5-7 October 2011.
Using tax revenues for these purposes is consistent with both the taxes aim to promote the health of the people of Palau and the governments duty under the Constitution to provide healthcare for its citizens, including the most vulnerable members of society. This is by far, the greatest accomplishment since the enactment to increase Palau Tobacco Tax in 2013, since CM was organized and since the Palau NCD Plan of 2015-2020 was completed.
More details: Candace Koshiba, WHO FCTC focal point, Ministry of Health, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.