Since our previous rendez-vous with Lutgard took place more than one year ago, on May 12 2007 we thought it was appropriate to ask her for an update.
Q1. Can you tell us what has changed (or not) in Tanzania since May 2007? Has the law been reviewed or is it still an on going process? Is the law better enforced or is it still a problem?
Lutgard Kagaruki: First off all, let me start by thanking you very much, for the excellent job you are doing; keeping tobacco control advocates informed of the most current global events on tobacco control.
To come to your question: Indeed a lot has happened in Tanzania since May 2007.
Through TTCF’s serious sensitization, Tanzanians are more aware now, about the effects of tobacco use than they were a year ago. The TTCF membership and the list of partner organizations has more than doubled; in addition, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare now appreciates the role of civil societies in tobacco control. We are currently working together to develop a National Tobacco Control Strategy.
Regarding the law, the Tobacco Products (Regulation) Act 2003, (TPRA 2003) is still in the process of being reviewed. TTCF and our partner organization TPHA were asked to comment on the revised law and, we gave our comments accordingly. We are looking forward to a cleaner TPRA (2003), when it finally comes out.
However, although the law is not being enforced, increased awareness amongst the community has resulted in decreased smoking, particularly among the adult population, although unfortunately, the rate seems to be going up among the youths. We hope to continue our campaigns, particularly to the youths through the TTCF Youth Wing.
Q2. During your stay in Durban for COP3 you obtained and filmed an interview with the Tanzanian Minister for Health and Social Welfare. The audio-recording (MP3) was posted on the conference blog but the video was not, due to the low internet connexion. Do you intend to use those internet audio and video tools in Tanzania?
Lutgard Kagaruki: Yes, thanks to your assistance in the filming and interviewing. Of course, we intend to use both the audio and video in our advocacy campaigns. We are very grateful to the Minister for his support in our campaigns. Both the audio and video recordings will be posted to our website, which is to be launched soon.
Q3. I was unable to find any information on line about the Tanzanian Tobacco Control Forum (except for an abstract of a presentation in DC in 2006) or the Tanzanian Association of Public Health . Blogs take less than one hour to be set up and are as easy as email to operate. Have you considered using a blog format to communicate on line?
Lutgard Kagaruki: You are unfortunately quite right! TTCF has not been featuring. However, don’t you worry, you will soon see TTCF online and of course, we wouldn’t mind using the blog as well, for the entire GLOBALink community to witness.
Q4. You have been elected in Durban to the Board of the newly created African Tobacco Control Regional Initiative. What are your expectations for this organization?
Lutgard Kagaruki: My expectations are; through ATCRI, first, to ensure that, the whole of Afro Region ratifies the FCTC; then, to build a strong African Tobacco Control Alliance, for I believe, united, we can reduce the tobacco epidemic in Africa
Q5.What are your priorities for 2009?
Lutgard Kagaruki: Quiet ambitious!! i) To fight for TPRA (2003) that is FCTC compliant; ii) To ensure that this law is effectively enforced; iii) A smoke-free Dar es Salaam, at least by end of 2009 and, hopefully, to ensure that, the good results spill over to other regions; iv) A strong, well networked TTCF, with membership all over Tanzania.
Thank you Lutgard for having taken the time to be with us today.