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Launch of Heartfile’s Reports on Smokeless Tobacco and New Nicotine Products.

February 06, 2024: Heartfile convened a dissemination event at Serena Hotel Islamabad to unveil their recently generated evidence on Smokeless Tobacco (SLT) and Tobacco and New Nicotine Products (TNNPs) in Pakistan. Eminent parliamentarians Senator Fawzia Arshad and Senator Seemee Ezdi graced the event. It also gathered prominent figures from various sectors, including government officials, health and tobacco control experts and civil society representatives from all over Pakistan.

Access Press Release from this link.
Heartfile TNNPs Final Report
Heartfile SLTs Final Report

Senator Sania Nishtar’s Emergency Treatment Bill

December 21, 2023: Senator Sania Nishtar’s Emergency Treatment Bill was presented in the Senate Standing Committee on Health.
In her tweet, Senator Sania Nishtar thanked Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Health for their bipartisan support and for unanimously approving her Bill, which mandates free emergency medical treatment for all in public hospitals in the Islamabad capital territory. “Free emergency medical treatment is not only a moral imperative but also a matter of rights, with reference to the state-peoples’ relationship” she wrote.

Dr. Saba Amjad Highlights Urgent Need for Comprehensive Tobacco Control Policies at the 13th International Public Health Conference

Islamabad: Heartfile, in collaboration with Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) and Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), participated at the 13th International Public Health Conference held at HSA Islamabad. The event, featuring a scientific session titled “Tackling Non-Communicable Disease Risk Factors” focused on crucial health issues in Pakistan, brought together a panel of experts from government bodies, civil society organizations, and advocacy groups.

Also together with aforementioned partners, Heartfile setup and maintained presence at a stall inside the event venue for increasing networking and the visibility of Heartfile’s past and present work on NCDs alongside partners’ published materials. Heartfile’s documentary films on ,iTFAs, ENDS and ONPs were screened repeatedly.

Heartfile team actively participated in the scientific session. The session explored both Dietary Risk Factors, including industrially produced trans-fatty acids (iTFAs) and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), and non-Dietary Risk Factor of Tobacco use.
In his keynote address, Dr. Khawaja Masuood Ahmed, National Coordinator for Nutrition & National Fortification Alliance of the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, provided valuable insights into the milestones achieved and challenges faced in Pakistan’s battle against NCDs and appreciated Heartfile’s valuable contributions to the process referring to Heartfile’s iTFA Situational Analysis in Pakistan and National Action Pan for NCDs (NAP-NCD)  for adopting global best practices with regards to iTFAs.

Mr Munawar Hussain, the country coordinator for GHAI in Pakistan, highlighted the NCD dietary risk factor of excessive sugar intake in his talk and demonstrated its linkages with the SSB industry and its products. Mr Munawar presented international best practices at length and the developments thereof particularly the of Front of Pack Labelling (FOPL) policies and standards adopted by various countries.

Mr Sanaullah Ghumman, General Secretary of PANAH gave a detailed chronology of his organization’s direct interactions with parliamentarians to garner political support for NCD related regulations highlighting both the highs and lows of their struggle in this battle.

Dr. Saba Amjad and her team, in their presentation, focused on the non-dietary NCD risk factor of Tobacco. The discussion addressed critical challenges in this domain and presented the latest contextual evidence regarding emerging nicotine-based products, including Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), Heated Tobacco Products (HTPs), and Oral Nicotine Pouches (ONPs) in Pakistan. Their presentation also highlighted the existing gaps in Pakistan’s regulatory framework to address these products and drew from international experiences in combating this emerging threat. Dr. Amjad concluded her address by proposing key policy recommendations and outlining a strategic way forward to effectively tackle the challenges posed by tobacco and related emerging products.

In her closing remarks the chair of the Scientific session Dr Afshan Tahseen Vice president PANAH summed up the discussion and appreciated the work of all organizations. She seconded the speakers’ opinions & policy recommendations and vowed to continue the advocacy work.

Overall, this session provided a pivotal platform for informed discussions, fostering collaboration between experts and stakeholders to strengthen the nation’s efforts in curbing the adverse impact of tobacco on public health and the dietary risk factor of iTFAs and SSBs.

Senator Sania’s Constitutional Amendment Bills

December 16: 2023: During the recent meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice there was support from all parties for two of Senator Sania’s constitutional amendment Bills, aimed at amending articles 140A and 84 of the Constitution. The former is aimed at providing a basic constitutional framework to achieve the objective of devolution from the provincial to local level, whereas the latter is meant to rectify the process of approving supplementary budget grants.

ATOM 23 Summit in Singapore

December 4, 2023: Senator Sania Nishtar virtually participated in the panel titled “Political & Economic Decisions Vs Costs of Health & Wellbeing” during the Advanced Tomorrow 2023 Singapore Summit, which focused on ‘Health and Wellbeing of Tomorrow’ – Revolutionising Healthcare, Wellness and Longevity in 21st Century. The discourse was around the main political and economic issues and barriers affecting healthcare outcomes globally and in countries of the South. The panel was moderated by Joan Hoey, Editorial Director, The Democracy Index at the Economist Intelligence Unit. Panel participants included Philippe Aghion, Professor of Economics at The London School of Economics and Political Science; Martin Guzman, Professor of Economics, and Former Minister of Economy of Argentina; Pranjal Sharma, author of The Next New: Navigating the Fifth Industrial Revolution; and Manuel Muniz, Provost of IE University in Madrid, Spain & Dean of the School of Global and Public Affairs.

Last Mile Forum, Health Day, COP 28

December 3, 2023: Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar participated in the first ever health day observed during COP 28. She spoke on a panel titled “breaking silos on climate sensitive diseases” during Last Mile forum. She spoke about measures and mitigates that the health sector needs to put in place to address the climate challenge, stressing on the need for new institutional arrangements, preemptive planning, and climate resilient investments in PHC. In a tweet after the event, she stated “The impact of climate change on health and health systems is staggering and alarming, and we have seen this playing out in Pakistan during the 2022 floods. I made a threefold call to action: first, health must work more closely with disaster, humanitarian, and social protection institutional arrangements. Second, we must mandate learnings from disasters and institutionalize pre-emptive planning for resilience and third, disruptive solutions are possible at scale for which technologies must be mainstreamed iteratively in processes and systems”

Senator Sania’s Motion to amend Senate Rule 185 on Conflict of interest

November 28, 2023: Sania moved a motion in the Senate to amend Senate Rule 185 related to Conflict of Interest; in her speech she said “this was vital for promoting transparency”.  However, Nishtar’s proposed amendment pertaining to conflict of interest safeguards, and aimed at institutionalising conflict of interest disclosure with a view to promoting public interest, transparency and good governance was vehemently opposed by the House. “I am deeply disappointed” she said afterwards in her tweet.

The speech can be accessed here: Conflict of Interest: Pakistan Senate

UHC strategic Retreat in Bellagio, Italy

November 24, 2024: On 21–24 November 2023, 20 senior decision makers and influencers with extensive engagement with the UHC movement and in successfully elevating health onto the highest political agenda convened in person at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Centre in Italy. The aim of the convening was to ensure that we keep UHC high on the agenda. Three months following the UN High-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (September 21), a closed-door retreat was a timely opportunity for frank discussions, stocktaking, and forward planning to develop a more strategic approach on how to leverage and engage the broader UHC movement mid-point to the SDGs.

International Politics, Leadership and Diplomacy for Health Conference

November 20, 2023: Senator Sania Nishtar participated in the invitation only conference on “International Politics, Leadership and Diplomacy for Health”. The conference was organized by Anders Nordstrom, former Ambassador for Global Health, Norway. The conference was part of a project which aims help expand a cadre of professionals competent in international politics and diplomacy, who can effectively navigate in the political landscape of health across the world.  It represents a collaborative effort between two leading academic institutions, the Stockholm School of Economics (House of Governance and Public Policy) and Karolinska Institutet (Department of Global Public Health). Dr Sania Nishtar attended the meeting as an invited expert.

Resolution on food systems at COP 28

November 13, 2023: Senator Nishtar’s Resolution on COP 28 was not supported by the Senate majority today, purely for political reasons. In her tweet she stated “I was deeply disappointed yesterday, when the Senate majority rejected this Resolution urging the Government of Pakistan to develop food systems-related institutional mechanisms in line with Pakistan’s global commitments ahead of COP-28. On the one hand, climate change, Pakistan’s burgeoning population, the precarious water scarcity situation and the tendency to use arable land for lucrative housing schemes is creating serious food security challenges, and is threatening the future of generations, but on the other hand, our toxic political environment is not just hampering the country’s progress on such existential matters, it is also undermining Pakistan’s reputation globally”