The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) blames “systemic failures” at the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) for the postponement of the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP10) that was due to take place last week in Panama.
“While the ‘official’ reason for the postponement of the conference was said to be security issues on the ground in Panama, it has come to light that the unfulfilled COP10 organization contract for which $5 million was allocated by the Panamanian Ministry of Health was terminated by the government at the end of October, finding itself without any service provider to ensure the event took place,” CAPHRA wrote in an e-mailed statement.
“The fact that the WHO FCTC knew in October that they did not have a venue or conference planning underway and waited until the week before the conference was due to begin before cancelling it shows contempt for member states and a blatant disregard and dismissal of the months spent creating and submitting position papers, requesting budget allocations from their governments and planning their attendance—including airfares, visas and hotel reservations,” the tobacco harm reduction group wrote.
“But then again, it seems a nonissue that $5 million disappeared, said the CAPHRA. Money that doctors in Panama said would be better spent on actual healthcare in the country—incubators, medicines and facilities.”
According to CAPHRA, the WHO FCTC’s actions not only threaten public health but also cause economic strain and foster next-generation addiction.
“The WHO FCTC is tone deaf to anything or anyone that questions the work they are mandated to do,” said CAPHRA Executive Coordinator Nancy Loucas. “This includes sabotaging health policies, negatively impacting the environment and using funds from Big Pharma and the Bloomberg Foundation, among others, to promote misleading narratives and undermine tobacco harm reduction efforts.”