CIBITOKE June 10th (ABP) – The celebration of World Tobacco-Free Day, which is celebrated around the world on May 31 each year, took place at the headquarters of Rugombo commune in Cibitoke province (north-west of Burundi) on Friday June 7, 2019, a check by ABP revealed.

The ceremonies were enhanced by the Assistant Minister of Public Health and the Fight against AIDS, Dr. Joselyne Nsanzerugeze, accompanied by a delegate of the WHO Representative in Burundi and senior executives of her ministry. On that occasion, a mass screening campaign of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and their risk factors preceded the ceremonies, a check at the Rugombo Stadium by ABP revealed.

The Assistant Minister for Public Health said in her speech of the day that tobacco smoke is harmful. She said that tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, 69 of which are carcinogenic. Dr. Nsanzerugeze also revealed that 39,353 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in 2018 in Africa and that 37,748 people have already died of cancer in less than two years. The same official of the Ministry of Public Health said that smoking is the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which causes painful coughing and breathing difficulties.

According to Dr. Nsanzerugeze, children are at high risk because the exposure of the fetus to toxins from tobacco smoke affects its growth and the functioning of its lungs. Young children exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke may contract pneumonia, bronchitis or a respiratory tract infection, she said.

As for the delegate of the WHO representative who spoke on behalf of Burundi’s partners in the field of health, Dr. Jerome Ndaruhutse, he began by congratulating the Burundi government for the efforts made to combat the harmful effects of tobacco, before conveying the message from the WHO Regional Director for Africa that the celebration of World Tobacco-Free Day is intended to raise awareness on the dangers of smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke. Through that occasion, an advocacy was made for the adoption of stronger tobacco control policies. He recalled that the theme of the year, “Tobacco and Lung Health”, focuses on the harmful effects of tobacco on our lungs and guides thinking about the measures to be taken to reduce the risks that tobacco causes on respiratory health. He said that nearly 165,000 children worldwide die before the age of five from lower respiratory tract infections caused by second-hand smoke.

The delegate of the WHO representative in Burundi pointed out that the most effective way to improve respiratory health is to reduce tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. He concluded by saying that WHO promises to continue to promote and support awareness of the benefits of a tobacco-free lifestyle and smoking cessation.

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