Union Health Minister J P Nadda has been honoured by the World Health Organisation with the Director General’s Special Recognition Award for his leadership and commitment to advancing tobacco control, while also selecting health ministers of Maldives and Bhutan among five individuals and  institutions from the WHO South-East Asia Region for this year’s World No-Tobacco Day Award.

“Nadda has accelerated India’s tobacco control initiatives, taking bold measures to protect people against multiple health, economic, social and development hazards of tobacco use,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia.

India’s recent initiatives include making graphic health warnings covering 85% of all tobacco products mandatory beginning April 2016; establishing National Tobacco Testing Laboratories last year; launching cessation services in 2015, and, as part of this, a National Tobacco Quitline a year ago.

These have all been made possible by the strong commitment and focused efforts of the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, the Regional Director said.

Nadda is among the two recipients of the special global award this year. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs of the Republic of the Gambia is the other awardee.

From the WHO South-East Asia Region, Minister of Health for Maldives, Abdullah Nazim Ibrahim, has  been conferred the World No-Tobacco Day Award for promoting tobacco cessation services and launching the anti-tobacco “I Choose Life” campaign last year.

Minister of Health for Bhutan, Tandin Wangchuk, has been selected for the award for implementing measures, as chairperson of Bhutan’s Narcotic Control Authority, to ban production and sale of tobacco in the country.