The WHO Regional Office for Africa and the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, a WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on tobacco and trade matters, jointly conducted a capacity building working on promoting coherence between health, trade and investment in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in the East African Region. The workshop, held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 25-28 May, brought together participants from across different sectors of government in Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania, and faculty from Australia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
Participants discussed the role that regional and international trade and investment are playing in economic development in the East African Region, and the need to harness the positives and minimise negative effects in order to promote sustainable development. Participants noted the centrality of health to sustainable development, and the importance of effective WHO FCTC implementation for both.
Participants examined the relationships between WHO FCTC implementation and international and regional trade and investment agreements, and particularly the policy space for the protection and promotion of health in these agreements. They discussed the current challenge by BAT Kenya to Kenya's tobacco control laws and the ongoing World Trade Organization and investment treaty challenges to Australia's tobacco plain packaging laws and the investment treaty challenge to Uruguay's packaging and labelling laws.
Participants shared their experiences of false assertions made by the tobacco industry that tobacco control measures breach a range of domestic, regional and international laws, and discussed ways to effectively counteract these claims, including by harnessing the legal power of the WHO FCTC.
Participants agreed on follow-up actions to be carried out at the regional and country level across different sectors of government.
The workshop was supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the WHO Regional Office for Africa, and conducted as a McCabe Centre WHO FCTC knowledge hub activity.