Gaborone, Botswana - 05 Decemebr 2017: The Ministry of Health and Wellness in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Chambers are training 40 government lawyers on the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the Tobacco Control Bill that is about to go to parliament for debate and approval. The aim of the training is to develop a critical mass of lawyers who understand the basis and significance of the Bill and will expertly advise management of sectors where some of them are attached as legal advisors. It is also expected that they will represent a pool of experts that can be called upon to protect the law, particularly against industry interference. The lawyers will also be called upon during development of regulations for the law. Some of the lawyers are legal draughters and therefore will gain insights and skills in drafting public health related legislation.
The training is supported by two WHO public health experts and 1 legal expert as well as two legal experts from Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids. The chief facilitator is an experienced senior legal draughter from the Attorney General’s chambers with qualification in Global Health Law. The expert team paid a courtesy call on the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness as well as the WHO Country Representative. Both expressed gratitude and the need for results. The training is the first of a series of trainings for lawyers particularly on the Tobacco Control Bill.
When opening the meeting, the Director of Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Dr Khumo Seipone highlighted the importance of the law for NCD prevention and public health in general. She reiterated the social and economic aspects of tobacco use which calls for an integrated multi-sectoral approach. She thanked partners particularly WHO for being there right from the start. She also acknowledged Attorney General’s Chambers for taking the lead at this critical juncture in the process. She thanked other partners for bringing additional international flavour to the process.
Speaking on behalf of WHO, Mr Moagi Gaborone emphasized the need for the country to remain vigilant and awake to industry interference. He commended the country for developing this critical capacity and doing very well in implementation of the FCTC. He assured Government of continued WHO support.
Botswana has existing legislation, the Control of Smoking Act of 1993 which will be repealed and replaced by the current Bill once signed into law. The Bill is comprehensive, progressive and FCTC compliant. It is hoped that high level advocacy will push the Bill to Cabinet and eventually parliament before the next leg of training in 2018.