The Health Exemplars
Smoking remains a leading cause of preventable deaths; and together with exposure to second-hand smoke, it remains a major public health problem in the Philippines. With the burning passion to help achieve the overarching goal of a smoke-free Philippines, Dr. Edgardo Ulysses Nguyen Dorotheo joins various anti-smoking advocates in national and international platforms to alleviate the social, health and economic burden imposed by the tobacco epidemic
By Gelyka Ruth R. Dumaraos
He’s always seen at the forefront of rallies for tobacco control not just in the country but also in international platforms, particularly in Southeast Asia. Dr. Edgardo Ulysses Nguyen Dorotheo has strongly advocated for the reduction of tobacco use in many countries including the Philippines. He is a familiar figure in many rallies, congress hearings and other initiatives to make one and all convinced of the health hazards smoking causes, and that any health-promoting society should shun it.
The Philippines is one of the signatories to the international treaty of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which is a legally binding international agreement that mandates effective tobacco-control policies that need to be implemented by all country signatories.
As FCTC program director of the Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), he serves as the guardian to ensure full implementation of the FCTC provisions in the region.
A graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1995, Dr. Dorotheo has indeed carved his named as one of the staunchest advocates for tobacco control and a healthy lifestyle for the prevention of non-communicable diseases. Together with other local health advocates he has successfully rallied for sin tax reforms and graphic health warning signs in tobacco packages in our country.
Dr. Dorotheo has a long list of affiliations related to tobacco control. To start off, he is a founding member of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) Alliance, Philippines (FCAP) in 2001. He was part of the strong Philippine delegation during the WHO FCTC convention during which the global treaty was drafted aiming to curb the tobacco epidemic.
Currently as FCTC program director of SEATCA, his role involves coming up and helping with capacity building programs of the government and civil society on tobacco use to alleviate its socio-economic and health burden.
Dr. Dorotheo was also part of the health alliance that was instrumental in the final passage of the Philippines’ Sin Tax Law which languished for more than 10 years in the halls of Congress due to the strong lobbying of tobacco manufacturers.
His anti-smoking crusade has also gone beyond the Philippines. He has assisted fellow advocates in Indonesia for their graphic health warning regulations; and in Vietnam and Cambodia, he has likewise contributed his expertise in the passage of FCTC-compliant national tobacco control laws.
Under his role, SEATCA gained partners in reducing tobacco consumption among the governments of Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam. These countries have also formulated their public health goals, in accordance with the global campaign.
In 2013, he was contracted by the WHO to conduct a two-day Tobacco Taxation Workshop for government officials and legislators in Palau.
In 2014, WHO acknowledge SEATCA’s significant contributions in the area of tobacco taxation by giving it the WHO Director-General’s Special Recognition Award for World No Tobacco Day, one of only two such awards given that year.
His notable key contributions in the global tobacco control includes his active participation in the Philippines government delegation to the development of international guidelines for implementation of FCTC Article 11 (packaging and labeling) and FCTC Article 6 (tax and prices measures). The guidelines were adopted by the Conference of Parties to the FCTC in 2008 and 2014, respectively, and are the global gold standards to guide governments in policy development relating to tobacco taxation and tobacco packaging, including graphic or pictorial health warnings.
In 2011, in recognition of his untiring devotion and leadership that has enhanced consensus-building in the field of tobacco control in the Philippines and worldwide, Dr. Dorotheo became the first Asian to be awarded the Judy Wilkenfeld Award for International Tobacco Control Excellence.
Despite all the awards and accolades he has already received, Dr. Dorotheo maintains the same passion he had on day 1 when he embarked on this anti-smoking advocacy. Not wishing to sit on his laurels, he is all the more determined to continue waging this seemingly endless battle to snuff the light out of every cigarette in this world.
“Not wishing to sit on his laurels, he is all the more determined to continue waging this seemingly endless battle to snuff the light out of every cigarette in this world”
March 2017 Health and Lifestyle