HealthJustice Philippines, a think tank and advocacy group with legal expertise in tobacco control and health promotion, pointed out that Philippines is the first country in the world to comply with an international agreement urging state parties to adopt guidelines for implementing the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) in foreign posts and diplomatic missions.
“Even before the state parties agreed to encourage adopting guidelines implementing WHO FCTC provisions in diplomatic missions in 2014, the Philippines, as early as 2010, already issued the Joint Civil Service Commission (CSC) and Department of Health (DOH) Memorandum Circular 2010-0, which regulates the interaction of government officials and employees, including those in foreign posts, with the tobacco industry,” Mary Ann Fernandez Mendoza, president and trustee of HealthJustice, stated.
The said agreement was adopted during the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the WHO FCTC, which took place in October 2014 in Moscow, Russia. “[The Convention Secretariat decides to] urge Parties to raise awareness and adopt measures to implement Article 5.3 and its implementing Guidelines among all parts of government including diplomatic missions,” the agreement read.
“Compliance with international agreements concerning tobacco control was bolstered when the Office of the Undersecretary for Administration of the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines reiterated the CSC-DOH JMC 2010-01 in 2013 through a Memorandum to foreign service posts and regional consular offices instructing them to comply with the Circular,” Mendoza added.
Adopted by the 56th World Health Assembly 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland, the WHO FCTC is dubbed as the world’s first international treaty. The COP, which happens every two years, is the time parties discuss how much progress they have made in implementing the global tobacco control treaty, and how they can improve such existing mechanisms. The last COP was held in New Delhi, India.
“It makes us Filipinos happy when our kababayans win beauty contests, singing competitions and boxing matches abroad. This victory should be no different. It should make us proud that the Philippines is a frontrunner even in formulating policies aimed at protecting public health and ensuring good governance in tobacco control,” Mendoza said.
HealthJustice is a Bloomberg Awardee for Global Tobacco Control. It is a Programme Partner of the NCD Alliance.