Cabinet Secretary for Health, Susan Nakhumincha has urged Kenyans to abandon tobacco growing and divert to other cash crops for more income and a healthier lifestyle.
Nakhumincha who graced an occasion to commemorate World No Tobacco Day in Migori said that changing agricultural activities to other cash crops will ensure food security apart from reducing health risks.
“Shifting our focus from tobacco to other cash crops will be a key step towards achieving food security in Kenya,” said Nakhumincha.
In her speech, Cs Health highlighted tobacco as one of the leading causes of preventable lifestyle diseases globally.
She added that tobacco has been associated significantly with respiratory illness, especially lung disease as well as a better percentage of cancer disease.
In Kenya, the prevalence of tobacco-related disease stands at 11.6 per cent with the youth leading at 9.6 per cent according to World Health Organization.
This further leads to eight out of ten deaths being associated with tobacco-related diseases globally, a situation that Nakhumincha said should be reversed by growing other crops.
She stressed the need to take emergent actions to save the nation from such effects especially the vulnerable group, the youth in particular.
She said that there is a need to create proactive awareness among the youth about the dangers of tobacco products like cigarettes which are being consumed actively by the youth in Kenya.
“I want to warn the youth amidst us today that tobacco consumption is very harmful to your health,” said the Cabinet Secretaries.
In an attempt to regulate tobacco consumption among the youth, she said that there is a partnership between Health and Education ministries to induce tobacco control into the curriculum.
“The partnership will be a great milestone towards reducing tobacco consumption by creating awareness on its effects among the youth,” she added.
Shifting the focus from growing tobacco to other crops, according to her, will be a great step towards achieving a healthier nation and ensuring food security.
She further discouraged the citizens from tobacco growing as a way of reducing Carbon emissions into the atmosphere, hence creating global warming.
She encouraged Migori residents to make use of the fertile soil in the right way agriculturally to produce crops that will ensure that their health is not at risk of preventable diseases.
She stressed the need to venture into alternative food crop production to ensure a healthier lifestyle apart from ensuring that there is an end to malnutrition in the region.
“Alternative food crop production can promote sustainable practices, preserve our ecosystem and ensure good nutrition for our entire population,” she added.
According to the Cs, this aligns with the government’s manifestos of a healthy and prosperous nation through the bottom-up economic model.
She noted that the government is keen to implement evidence-based tobacco control measures to salvage the youth from the negative effects of tobacco.
She said that Kenya is working closely with the WHO to ensure that Kenya remains at the frontline in ensuring that alternative livelihood is adopted.