Hello, what's your name and where are you from?
Yeah, thank you. My name is Dr. Kariuki Mike. I'm from Kenya.
And what do you do? What is your background?
Yeah, I'm a pediatrician by profession.
I take care of small babies, put the smiles back on their faces, their parents' faces.
And that's what I love and enjoy to do.
And on top of that, I do harm reduction work through Harm Reduction Society of Kenya,
where we do harm reduction on various aspects, including alcohol, tobacco, HIV AIDS, pesticides and drugs of abuse.
And is this your first time at GFN conference?
Is this my first physical attendance? The last one I attended online and I'm glad to be here.
And what do you think about this year's GFN conference?
Oh, wonderful. Extremely wonderful.
We've learned a lot from the various actors in the field of harm reduction on tobacco.
And it was quite enlightening. Fantastic. It was quite nice.
And you are one of the panelists of the session regarding increased range of safer alternatives to smoking.
What do you think? What are your thoughts?
Yes, I was one of the panelists on inequality of access, especially in lower middle income countries.
And my presentation was mainly what are the barriers that people back at home and the larger of Africa,
in the lower middle income countries, especially the vulnerable groups.
What are the barriers of access to harm reduction?
And essentially, it ranges from lack of knowledge, lack of understanding of these modalities of harm reduction,
accessibility issues, affordability issues.
So quite a number of barriers that we did dissect during the presentation.
And the good thing is that we have begun the process of educating Kenyans back at home on what harm reduction,
especially in tobacco zone above.
There is a lot of harm reduction activity in HIV AIDS.
And we decided to take that approach so that it's easier for the Kenyans, the policy makers,
to understand what harm reduction is all about.
And this year's trap line is tobacco high reduction the next decade.
What do you think will still change within the next 10 years?
Absolutely. As we have heard, the last 10 years, the number of smokers have hardly reduced.
I mean, we are still talking of a billion plus smokers 10 years ago and a billion plus smokers today.
In the next 10 years, we really need to have this number reduced.
And fortunately, we have some very good examples of countries that are making very good progress.
We have seen Sweden on the verge of being declared a smoke-free society with smoking rates of approaching 5 percent and below.
And that is a very pragmatic move.
We have seen the UK government adopt the new strategy of swap the stock.
And we are looking to see how the swap the stock campaign will take shape in as far as moving the first phase of a million smokers out of combustible cigarettes,
through the harm reduction activities.
So in the next decade, we need to see that billion plus number of smokers reduce.
And that is our main aim so that we can reduce the harm that we all know is associated with combustible cigarettes.
Great. Thank you so much.
Something else to add. Most people ask, what is a pediatrician doing in harm reduction?
And I would want to say that we all know the effects of combustible cigarettes on the unborn child.
We have very low birth weight, preterm deliveries. We have cases of congenital anomalies.
I mean, the effects are many on the unborn child.
And immediately after birth, we all know the effects of smoking on the young children, our adolescents who are growing up.
And it would be my pleasure to see that the parents of these children who are either born or who have been born, quit smoking.
And we do know that culturally, back at home, if the man is smoking in the house, the children will be there, the wife will be there.
And there is nothing much they can do. So we are here to speak for those vulnerable children.
As a pediatrician, so that we can assist and tell the parents who are smoking that there is indeed help.
There is help in harm reduction. And you can be assisted to get rid of your combustible cigarette smoking.
And for the benefit and health of the children in that household.