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Oman committed to combat NCDs

UN award for plain packaging initiative

The Sultanate of Oman, represented by the Ministry of Health (MoH), has received the United Nations 2022 Award for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), a recognition for the nation's relentless efforts to combat NCDs resulting from tobacco use.

It was unveiled on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly meetings being held in New York. The international award caps up the ministry’s commitment to multi-sectoral action to prevent and control NCDs, for example, through implementation of plain packaging for tobacco products at the national level.

Speaking to the Observer on the sidelines of the award ceremony in New York, Dr Abdullah bin Hamoud al Harthy, Senior Consultant in Trauma and Intensive Care Surgery at the Ministry of Health, who received the award at the UN headquarters on behalf of the Minister of Health, said the award is an accomplishment to be added to the chain of achievements of the ministry in various health fields which continue with the renewed renaissance.

"The UN recognition for the health sector is the manifestation of the relentless efforts of the nation in the health sector which continue to yield greater results regionally as well as internationally," Dr Al Harthy said.

The ministry's approach fits with sustainable development goals vis-à-vis the control of NCDs in Oman.

Dr Jumana al Abduwani, Director of international affairs at the ministry, felt that this coveted award from the UN in particular comes as an outcome of hard work and efforts for many years.

"Although Oman is a relatively low tobacco-use prevalence country according to WHO databases, we view this risk factor as a significant public health threat that requires sustained attention to reduce its consumption," she said.

Oman became a party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) on March 9, 2005, making it obligatory for the government to implement and enforce the convention's tobacco control measures and guidelines. This led to implementing plain packaging of all tobacco products sold in Oman, with the aim of stripping the tobacco industry of its last platform to advertise their lethal products.

"The UN's NCD Taskforce Award will definitely motivate all stakeholders to further improve the implementation of voluntary NCD target as well as target Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by strengthening the implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control," she added.

The achievement further highlights the progress made by Oman and underscores the government’s aspiration to be within the ranks of advanced countries in public health.

The UN awards are aimed at recognising outstanding commitment and action to prevent and control NCDs, and deliver integrated people-centred primary care which will be made in 'Ministries of health and government health agencies', and 'Ministries and government agencies outside health'.

Earlier, a study conducted as part of the unyielding efforts of the ministry, it was found that NCDs were a major threat to Oman’s public health and about 80 per cent of deaths in Oman were attributed to NCDs.

The systematic review on NCDs and health equity in the EMR by the MoH further indicated that NCDs is a major public health issue that NCDs currently cause 185.75 deaths per 100,000 population in Oman and sedentary lifestyle, consumption of junk foods and oily foods, and other factors have been known to be contributing to the NCDs including heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes.

Oman has formed National Committee for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases by a decision of the Council of Ministers in February of 2018, comprising members from several sectors concerned with planning in the field of prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, and proposal of draft laws, regulations and decisions related to safety.

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