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Over 1,000 Tobacco Growers and Retailers Stage Protest in Delhi outside WHO Office

The protestors comprised tobacco growers and retailers from states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, among others

Representational image. Flickr

New Delhi, October 27, 2016: Over a thousand tobacco growers and retailers on Thursday staged a protest outside the Health Ministry and South Asian Office of the World Health Organisation here.

The farmers were upset as they have been denied participation in the upcoming (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of Parties (FCTC COP7), scheduled to be hosted by India this year in Noida from November 7-12.

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The protestors comprised tobacco growers and retailers from states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, among others.

They have urged the government to boycott the WHO conference as it is likely to adversely affect the tobacco farming sector that contributes over Rs 10,000 crore to the government’s revenue annually.

According to them, if they are not allowed to participate, core issues such as increasing counterfeit bidi trade in the country after the implementation of 85 per cent pictorial warning will go ignored.

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Also, they won’t get a chance to discuss with the government for the alternate crop, as the stricter government norms against tobacco have dealt a heavy economic loss to them.

“We call upon the government, in its capacity as hosts to the upcoming FCTC conference, to uphold Indian Tobacco Farmers respect and the country’s democracy and boycott the conference,” B.V. Javare Gowda, President, Federation of All India Farmers Association (FAIFA), told IANS.

As a representative of the tobacco farmers in India, FAIFA has applied to the WHO FCTC secretariat seeking observer status in the FCTC COP7.

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When contacted on the issue, WHO told IANS that FCTC is an independent body and the decision to let anyone participate in the conference is up to them.

Also, according to the FCTC and its guidelines, no country should have delegation members linked to the tobacco industry.

The nation’s main cigarette industry body, the Tobacco Institute of India (TII), and farmer groups wrote to the Agriculture Ministry demanding that their views should be presented in the WHO conference. (IANS)

  • Vinny Gracchus

    The FCTC is an antidemocratic, totalitarian sham. It suppresses dissent and eschews transparency and takes funding from pharmaceutical interests that compromise their objectivity. The FCTC should be dismantled to correct their covert racketeering.

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WHO Launches World’s First Malaria Vaccine, Now Working on Vaccines Against Cancer

“Vaccines are one of the greatest inventions of humankind,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine

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A medical worker at Likuni Community Hospital, in Lilongwe, Malawai draws the malaria vaccine into a syringe for vaccination. VOA

This year, during World Immunization Week, the World Health Organization launched the world’s first malaria vaccine. Scientists are also testing a vaccine for HIV, and they are working on vaccines against cancer.

“Vaccines are one of the greatest inventions of humankind,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a professor at the Baylor College of Medicine.

Global vaccination programs have ended smallpox, and they are closing in on polio, a disease that used to paralyze 350,000 people each year. Because of a global immunization program, that number now stands at 20. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the last remaining countries where the polio virus is still spreading.

Break the chains

Diseases like smallpox, polio and measles can only be transmitted from one person to another. Dr. Walter Orenstein from the Emory Vaccine Center says that’s why they can be wiped off the face of the earth.

“If you can break the chains of human to human transmission, you can eradicate the disease,” he said. “That’s how smallpox was eradicated.”

Malaria vaccine

Most of the diseases that can be prevented through vaccines are caused by viruses — think measles, mumps or chickenpox. But the most exciting news during World Immunization Week is about a vaccine against the parasite that causes malaria.

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A doctor assists people looking for treatment for malaria at a health center in San Felix, Venezuela. VOA

Dr. Pedro Alonso of the World Health Organization said Malawi, Ghana and Kenya will begin giving malaria vaccines to children in the coming weeks.

“This is the first vaccine against the human malaria parasite. Parasites are really complex organisms, much more so than a virus or a bacteria. And that’s why it has taken 30 years to develop this first vaccine,” he said.

Cancer and HIV

Vaccines can already protect against two types of cancer: cervical and oral cancers caused by the human papilloma virus and liver cancer caused by the hepatitis B virus. Now scientists are working to develop vaccines against breast cancer and other deadly cancers.

malaria vaccines
FILE – Malaria drugs are seen on display in a privately owned pharmacy in Blantyre, Malawi. (L. Masina/VOA).

And then there’s HIV. HIV vaccine trials are going on in South Africa, and research is being done to develop an antibody-based HIV vaccine.

ALSO READ: Malawi Becomes First Country to Initiate Immunizing Children against Malaria

Dr. Carl Dieffenbach is a specialist in HIV at the National Institutes of Health. He says anti-AIDS drugs have already made a huge difference in controlling the epidemic. “We put a vaccine on top of that, too, it’s not just stopping the epidemic. It’s ending the epidemic,” he said.

A world free from these diseases will be a world where more people can raise healthy children, earn a living and get out of poverty. It would be a world where not only people, but countries could prosper. (VOA)