The Kenya Tobacco Control Alliance (KETCA), as the umbrella organization that brings together individuals and organizations who advocate for tobacco control in Kenya, endeavours to provide a platform to support coordination of members activities as well as facilitate collaboration with other non-TC actors. This is broadly because tobacco control affects all spheres of development and there is need to be addressed with equal seriousness. As a way of supporting and facilitation of tobacco control coordination, KETCA convened a coordination forum that brought together actors from government departments, i.e. Teacher’s Service Commission, Tobacco Control Board, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development. The forum also brought together members of the civil society organizations (CSOs), Academia and the media.
If everyone is moving forward together then success takes care of itself – Henry Ford
Every organization represented shared their work on addressing various concerns as far as tobacco control is concerned. These presentations by various stakeholders the diversity of tobacco control and why more organizations need to be included in addressing matters tobacco control. The Teacher’s Service Commission (TSC) represented by their wellness department, looks at the welfare of teachers and is concerned with addressing the issues of health. This department plays a pivotal role in reaching out to teachers and sensitizing them on the effects of tobacco use. The TSC’s department of Gender and Child Protection, present during the forum, is in charge of looking at the welfare of children in schools. Protection of children interest in schools is vital because the tobacco industry has been linked to strategies that target to recruit smokers from primary school children.
The Tobacco Control Board (TCB), as the adviser to the Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of Health, is equally committed to ensure the country’s tobacco control agenda takes the forefront in the government agenda. With the help of KETCA and other players this will achieved easily and more similar forums will expedite the realization of this agenda. The Board being a multi-sectoral government body setup by the Tobacco Control Act 2007, plays a key role in bringing on board members from other state departments and CSO representatives, representing the depth with which tobacco control should be addressed.
Learning institutions, especially tertiary institutions of learning, is imperative since these institution have the requisite resources and technical capacities to conduct very objective researches on tobacco, its effects and eventual tobacco control interventions that can be effective in addressing the recurrent challenges in tobacco control. By continuously involving students and faculty in matters tobacco control opens up for new strategies to combat the tobacco menace in the society. Likewise, the youth need to be involved at all levels of policy development to ensure that their issues are also addressed when agitating for tobacco control policies.
The media plays a critical role in informing and educating the public. Extensive involvement of the media in tobacco control work serves as a key pillar of disseminating information and educating the public on the dangers of tobacco use and exposure to second hand tobacco smoke. KETCA media network needs to be strengthened to ensure that tobacco control issues are prioritized and stories are strategically angled to address the various aspects with which tobacco control should be addresses.