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Making the economic case for tobacco control action in Jordan

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8 July 2019, Amman – High-level political dialogue was held under the patronage of His Excellency the Prime Minister of Jordan Dr Omar Al-Razzaz, on the findings of an international study on the economic investment case of tobacco control in Jordan. The study is the first systematic and robust analysis of the combined health and economic burden of tobacco use in Jordan, providing estimates on the potential health benefits and economic gains from the effective implementation of tobacco control measures.

These measures are envisaged under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), a legally international treaty ratified by the Jordanian Government in 2004. The investment case analysis was requested by the Ministry of Health, and initiated in 2017 by WHO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Key findings from the economic analysis include the massive scale of the economic loss Jordan incurred during the study year 2015 (based on national data), on the order of JOD 1.6 billion – representing an overall GDP loss of 6% due to the widespread consumption of tobacco products in Jordan. Against the background of economic analyses in other countries and a global average of GDP loss at 1.8%, Jordan suffers by far the highest economic burden out of all countries studied so far. In addition to economic loss due to decreased productivity and increased health expenditure, the study also estimates more than 9,000 deaths during the study year 2015 as a direct result of tobacco consumption.

Addressing the audience of government officials, economic and health experts, Her Royal Highness Princess Dina Mired stated that, “Jordan is facing a serious threat: the tobacco industry is only concerned about making profit, with no interest in compensating the economic loss that ordinary people and government have to endure in return. Now that we have reached a level of 70% of male smokers (in 2015) – the second highest in the world – we cannot stay idle anymore: we must join all of our efforts to protect our youth from the grip and hooks of the tobacco industry to preserve our future economic prosperity.”

Representing H.E. the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health Dr Saad Jaber re-affirmed the Government’s commitment to working across sectors to reduce the high prevalence of tobacco use, especially among youth and adults. He further declared his Ministry’s leadership in working with other partners in and outside of Government on a coherent, medium and long term strategy for tobacco control in Jordan. Dr Maria Cristina Profili, the WHO Representative to Jordan, emphasized that “Jordan has a unique opportunity to take advantage of the clear findings and recommendations of this report. Through implementation of cost-effective tobacco control measures, Jordan can start to reverse the high economic loss due to tobacco use by JOD 6.5 billion over the next 15 years, while saving more than 48 000 lives”.

The meeting involved government officials from several ministries, international organizations and experts from the United Nations, civil society and university professors, all of them re-affirming their commitment to overcome the alarming tobacco epidemic that threatens economic growth, sustainable development in Jordan.

Key health-related statistics

Total population in thousands 10 053
Total expenditure on health (% of general government expenditure) 13.7
Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births) 58
Primary health care units and centres (per 10 000 population) 6.9
Life expectancy 74.3

Source: Framework for health information systems and core indicators for monitoring health situation and health system performance, 2018

Comprehensive assessment of Jordan’s health information system 2016

See Jordan country profile

Regional Health Observatory

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