by Ben Ochieng
NAIROBI, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's health ministry on Wednesday launched guidelines to help in the reduction on the use and treatment of tobacco in the East African country.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Julius Korir said the deaths due to tobacco use in the country have been steadily increasing hence the need to establish tobacco control measures such as offering dependence treatment and cessation services.
"The national guidelines provide up to date measures for the entire healthcare system for alleviating tobacco use as well as focusing on other mitigating factors," Korir said during the occasion that also coincided with the World No Tobacco Day.
Tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable deaths and contracting diseases globally with nearly 6 million fatalities annually attributed to consumption and exposure to smoke.
In Kenya, recent surveys have estimated that the country has 2.5 million adult tobacco users, which translates to 13.3 percent of the population, and 14 percent of citizens are exposed to second-hand smoke at home.
The East African nation has signed and ratified World Health Organization (WHO) protocols to protect the current and future generations from consequences of consumption and exposure to tobacco and to provide rehabilitation and cessation programs to consumers of tobacco product.
Head of Division of Non-Communicable Diseases in the Ministry of Health Gladwell Gathecha said tobacco use affects all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as it encroaches into every sphere of life and impacts the economy.
According to Gathecha, studies conducted in the country show that there is willingness among tobacco users to quit smoking but many are unable to do so without the help of professional health treatment.
The World No Tobacco Day, observed every year on May 31, is intended to encourage 24-hour period abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe.