Forum held to review Tobacco Free Youth Campaign “IChooseLife”
19th January 2016: WHO Representative Dr Arvind Mathur and team actively took part in a forum conducted by the Health Protection Agency to review the Tobacco Free Youth Campaign “IChooseLife” . The forum which was held at Custom’s Building Conference Hall last Tuesday was graced by it’s Chief Guest Ministry of Health’s Senior Policy Advisor Mr Abdul Hameed Abdul Samad and Permanent Secretary Ms Khadheeja Abdul Samad. Volunteers from the Ministry of Youth and Sports also engaged energetically in the forum.
During the forum, Dr Razana Faiz and Dr Aishath Aroona conducted a group activity amongst the audience to discuss some positive outcomes of the campaign and questioned what can be done in 2016 to further strengthen the movement. Youth volunteers identified the initiative as the first campaign created “by the youth, for the youth”. They suggested that social media platforms should have more recent data of Tobacco usage and health problems in the country. Furthermore, it was suggested to conduct more visits to universities as well as have more social media outreach during the days leading up to the campaign. It was also noted that working with NGOs can be a major step towards eliminating tobacco consumption as some islands have a large smoking population.
WHO Representative Dr Arvind Mathur suggested the Ministry of Health and Health Protection Agency to implement these ideas working together with different stakeholders such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports and as well as NGOs. He identified documentation of good practices such as “Smoke free islands” as an initial step towards building positive stories for advocacy. Dr Arvind Mathur assured WHO’s continued support for the campaign, its expansion and recommended the Ministry of Health to always lead by example in the country by being front runners in the battle towards tobacco free Maldives.
Certificates of Appreciation were given away by the Chief Guest Mr Abdul Hameed Abdul Samad, Ms Khadheeja Abdul Samad and Dr Arvind Mathur to NGOs, volunteers and partners that have supported the campaign since it’s launch in May 2015. During this ceremony, WHO also received a certificate of appreciation for being a committed, trusted and credible partner towards the campaign.
In his speech, Mr Abdul Hameed Abdul Samad thanked His Excellency President Abdul Yamin Abdul Gayyoom for prioritizing the wellbeing of the youth in the nation and aimed to work hand with partners in hand to eliminate tobacco from Maldives. Furthermore, he thanked the WHO for the support and activism towards the country and also the campaign.