Department of Health Tobacco Programs Underfunded » Capital News
NAIROBI, Kenya, 8 July – A recent report by the National Taxpayers Association indicates that Ministry of Health programs involved in tobacco control are grossly underfunded, meaning they cannot effectively tackle tobacco vice.
According to the study, the Tobacco Control Council and the Division of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are consistently underfunded.
The investigation showed that the two receive funding under the ministry’s preventive and promotional health services program.
In the financial year 2019/20, the budget allocation required for the preventive and promotional health services program was 16.14 billion shillings, but what was received was 11.22 billion shillings, a shortfall of 4.9 billion shillings.
“Over the past three years, the budget share of the non-communicable disease prevention and control subprogramme in the preventive and promotional health services program has been less than 5%, accounting for only 2% for the financial year 2020/21,” the report shows.
“This implies that on average, for every 100 shillings of income generated from tobacco consumption, at least 5 shillings are used to address the health and social outcomes induced by the consumption of tobacco products,” he added. .
The report examined government spending on tobacco prevention and control to determine whether it meets budget levels recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It presents the findings and analysis of tobacco taxation on tobacco use, government revenue and its implications for health financing in Kenya.
It also provides policy recommendations to government and informs advocacy for tobacco taxation for health financing.
Franciscah Marabu, NTA Programs Officer, advised the government to compel tobacco companies to pay the solatium fund as required by the Tobacco Control Act.
“The government should explore setting up solatium compensation funds with tobacco companies. The fund was supposed to be operational in Kenya from 2021, but it has not yet been implemented,” Marabu said.
The solatium compensation fund is a contribution of 2% of the value of the tobacco products sold. The government is required to spend the money on tobacco control research, cessation and rehabilitation programs.
NTA national coordinator Irene Otieno said reforming the tax structure by making it more uniform would also generate more revenue, which should be channeled to health, and reduce tobacco consumption.
“Tobacco taxation will contribute significantly to reducing the consumption of tobacco products, which will protect any allocation of our Universal Health Care (UHC) taxes. We hope the Senate will protect the interests of their counties and support our initiative and increase tobacco taxes,” she said.
The economic cost of smoking in Kenya is estimated to be Ksh 2.98 billion a year, the report says.
This includes direct costs related to health expenditures and indirect costs related to lost productivity due to early mortality and morbidity.
“The cost of health is a fundamental reason used to justify relatively high taxation of tobacco products,” the report adds.