Fiocruz / WHO FCTC
The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and Convention Secretariat, which serves as the secretariat of both the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, entered into a Memorandum of Understanding this Thursday (09 July). The document designates Fiocruz, through its Center for Tobacco and Health Studies (CETAB) of the National School of Public Health Sergio Arouca (ENSP), as a WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub for Articles 17, provision of support for economically viable alternative activities; and 18, protection of the environment and the health of persons.
Tobacco growing is resource-intensive and it harms the health of tobacco farmers while earning them low- or even no - profit. Furthermore, tobacco’s total environmental footprint is comparable to that of entire countries and its production is often more environmentally damaging than that of essential commodities such as food crops.
It has been estimated that 10 to 20 million malnourished people worldwide could be fed if food crops were grown instead of tobacco.
Supporting farmers in shifting to higher value crops or alternative economic activities improves health, increases farmer incomes, and contributes to the sustainability of national resources and the environment.
Speaking at a virtual signing ceremony, Dr. Nísia Verônica Trindade Lima, President of Fiocruz, said: "Brazil is a reference for tobacco control in the world. This recognition as a Knowledge Hub of the Secretariat of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is the result of early work initiated by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in the 1990s. The Tobacco and Health Studies Center (Cetab) is engaged in surveillance, training of professionals and monitoring industry actions in the country and, through articles 17 and 18 of the WHO FCTC, it will played an important role in reducing the economic and health impacts related to the decrease in tobacco production. Through this Knowledge Hub, we will be able to foster our cooperation and expand this work."
Dr. Adriana Blanco Marquizo, Head of Secretariat of the WHO FCTC, said: “We are delighted to welcome Fiocruz in Brazil to the family of WHO FCTC Knowledge Hubs. There is no doubt that Brazil has a wealth of expertise to offer in this area. Ultimately, we want to collectively strengthen our support to Parties to the Convention in developing strategies on alternatives to tobacco growing, as part of their national development plans, and on environmental issues related to Article 18 of the WHO FCTC.”
The virtual signing ceremony was the first of its kind for the Convention Secretariat, largely spurred by travel restrictions caused by the global pandemic of COVID-19. It was attended by almost 200 participants who connected through virtual means.
The WHO FCTC Knowledge Hub on Articles 17 and 18
The Articles 17 and 18 Knowledge Hub in Brazil will join other WHO FCTC knowledge hubs in assisting Parties to strengthen their implementation in specific areas of the Convention. The functions of the Knowledge Hub would include, inter alia, “to develop, analyse, synthesize and disseminate to the Parties to the Convention knowledge and information relating to matters under its expertise in relation to the Convention” in accordance with Articles 17 and 18 of the Convention, with a view to promoting and fostering scientific and technical international cooperation among the Parties to the Convention.
The Knowledge Hub will respond to the needs of regional economic groupings in the development of innovative ways to engage non-health sectors nationally, regionally and globally to promote implementation of Articles 17 and 18. It will help the Convention Secretariat in capitalizing on opportunities regionally and globally to provide a better coordination of efforts to promote alternatives to tobacco growing based on the experience of Brazil, primarily targeted at low- and lower-middle income tobacco growing economies, particularly the ones in Africa.
In addition to promoting research, at national, regional and global levels, on alternative livelihoods and methods to protect the environment and the health of persons related to tobacco growing, including the health of farmers, the knowledge hub will also raise greater global awareness on Articles 17 and 18 of the Convention through bilateral, regional and global relations, and relevant regional and international intergovernmental organizations and financial and development institutions in which Brazil is represented.
The hub will also serve as a useful resource for the sessions of the Conference of the Parties, the Governing Body of the Convention, and its subsidiary bodies where relevant.
The Secretariat of the WHO FCTC
The Secretariat is a global authority concerning the implementation of the WHO FCTC and the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products. The Convention Secretariat is an entity hosted by the World Health Organization in Geneva and cooperates with relevant departments of WHO and other competent international organizations and bodies, and non-governmental organizations accredited as observers to the Conference of the Parties.