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Tobacco kills 146m Africans yearly – WHO

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…Says one in 100 global deaths is by suicide

WORLD Health Organisation has revealed that no fewer than 146 million Africans die annually from tobacco related disease.

  WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, stated this during a virtual press conference, yesterday.

  Explaining that tobacco was the leading cause of preventable deaths in the world while emphasising that smoking damages nearly every organ in the body, Moeti said that “globally, exposure to secondhand smoke kills more than 1.2 million people yearly.”

  According to her, use of tobacco products other than cigarettes, such as vaporisers, was on the increase in Africa.

  Therefore, Moeti recommended quitting tobacco as the way to reduce the risk of developing cancer, heart disease, stroke and other diseases, noting that it would also increase one’s life expectancy.

  “Quitting tobacco is hard but today is a good day to start. Make the decision to live a life controlled by you and not tobacco. It may seem impossible, or like smoking isn’t a big deal. But what you don’t do today may end up causing future health problems or, worse, premature death,” Moeti said.

  She said that one in five adolescents in Africa now used tobacco, saying “this must change. Quit smoking and be a part of the solution.”

  In a related development, World Health Organisation said one in 100 deaths was by suicide and it is a leading cause of death worldwide, especially for young people aged 15-29.

  Director-General of World Health Organisation, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that over one million people die by suicide than HIV, malaria, breast cancer or war and homicide. In 2019, more than 700,000 people died by suicide which is one in every 100 deaths.

  “We cannot and must not ignore suicide. Each one is a tragedy. Our attention to suicide prevention is even more important now, after many months living with the COVID-19 pandemic, with many of the risk factors for suicide, job loss, financial stress and social isolation, still very much present,” he said.

  Ghebreyesus also bereted some countries for not placing suicide prevention high on their agendas to meet the SDG target of a one-third reduction in global suicide rate by 2030.

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