WHO lauds PH health chief for ‘strong’ tobacco control advocacy

Jee Y. Geronimo

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WHO lauds PH health chief for ‘strong’ tobacco control advocacy
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial is one of the 6 from the Western Pacific Region who received the 2017 World No Tobacco Day 2017 Award

MANILA, Philippines – For her “strong” tobacco control advocacy in the Philippines, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial was recognized as one of the awardees of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World No Tobacco Day 2017 awards

“We congratulate Secretary Ubial for this well-deserved recognition. She is always on the forefront in saying no to tobacco to protect health, reduce poverty, and promote development,” said WHO Representative in the Philippines Gundo Weiler.

Weiler gave the award to Ubial on Tuesday, May 30 – ahead of World No Tobacco Day which is observed around the world on May 31.

The WHO cited Ubial’s work in “consistently” advocating for tobacco control throughout her career in public health.

The United Nations’ health agency noted that in 2010, Ubial helped conceptualize the Red Orchid Awards, the Philippine health department’s 100% tobacco-free environment recognition for local government units, government offices, and government hospitals.

More recently, the WHO said Ubial “prioritized” drafting what is now Executive Order 26, which provides for the establishment of smoke-free environments in public and enclosed spaces all over the country.

“The signing of Executive Order 26 is a step in the right direction in the Philippines’ implementation of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It improves upon the Republic Act 9211 and shows the sincere commitment of the government to protecting the public from carcinogenic secondhand smoke,” Weiler explained.

ADVOCATE. Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial receives the 2017 World No Tobacco Day Award from the World Health Organization. Photo by Jee Y. Geronimo/Rappler

The World No Tobacco Day awards recognize individuals or organizations in each of the 6 WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control. Ubial is one of 6 awardees in the Western Pacific Region.

Previous awardees from the Philippines include:

  • Former vice president and Makati City mayor Jejomar Binay (2007)
  • Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Alliance Philippines (2011)
  • Former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino (2012)
  • Former president Benigno Aquino III and the Sin Tax Team (2013)
  • The Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance, Philippines (2014
  • Former PhilHealth president Alexander Padilla (2016)


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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.