Cape Town. Journalists from 20 African countries are teaming up in Cape Town, South Africa to groom their reporting skills on how tobacco consumption hampers development and affects health in the continent.
This comes in the wake of reports from anti-tobacco initiatives that most people in Western countries are increasingly refraining from tobacco smoking whereas the vice is now increasing in Africa and most other developing countries.
The Executive Director of the African Tobacco Control Alliance (ATCA), Mr Deowan Mohee said on March 6 that most tobacco companies in the world are now preying on Africa to sell tobacco products that have lost market in western countries.
"It's important for the journalists in Africa to look into how this will affect the continent, given the health risks and the poverty situation that researchers say has already affected many people on the continent," said Mr Mohee.
The aim is to influence African countries reinforce the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), which Tanzania is part of.
Journalists attending the sessions on tobacco control have raised critical aspects of reporting.
A Nigerian researcher and journalist, Mr Edmund Obillo cautioned on the fact that there is need for African journalists to be able to communicate the risks associated with tobacco use, in an African way.
"Most reportage on Tobacco in our media seems to be reported in wastern style, we need to reach a level where we can influence smokers out there who speak local languages, " he said.
A Ugandan journalist, Mr Richard Baguma who coordinates the Uganda Health Communication Alliance, said that much as the information about health risks and poverty is permeating among the people in Africa, much is desired in helping smokers feel responsible for their actions.
"The reason why certain smokers know the health risks but still go on to smoke is that they have not reached a level where they are in control of their habit because of addiction,” he said.
He added, “They need help. This can come from health workers, the families and governments must see the reason to chip in and help them."
The journalists' training comes at the time the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health is due to take place tomorrow, March 7 up to 9th in Cape Town, South Africa