SARC-CCT Fellows’ Virtual Convocation 2021

Virtual Convocation ceremony to award Fellowship completion Certificates to the 2021 Fellows of the South Asian Regional Consortium Centre for Combating Tobacco (SARC-CCT) was successfully held on 30th June 2021.

Fourteen Fellows from all South Asian countries (namely Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) completed the second cycle of the fellowship programmes panning a duration of six months starting from 18th January 2021. These Fellows received training on monitoring and dissemination of information on the activities of and the interference by the tobacco industry in the region.International Union against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) generously funded this programme.

Initiating the ceremony, Dr. Mahesh Rajasuriya, Director of CCT warmly welcomed the Fellows and the distinguished guests, and briefly explained the journey of the Fellowship programme. A compilation of video messages from SARC-CCT Fellows sharing their experiences and key learning points during the Fellowship was played following the welcome speech.

Dr. Rana J. Singh, the Deputy Regional Director-South East Asia regional office of The Union and the Member of the SARC-CCT Technical Advisory Panel, then spoke explaining the importance of building capacity to monitor and counter the tobacco industry interference. He also highlighted the interference of the tobacco industry during COVID-19 pandemic in terms of CSR activities and via the front groups.

Ms. Bungon Ritthiphakdee, the Executive Director, WHO FCTC Secretariat’s Knowledge Hub on Article 5.3, School of Global Studies, Thammasat University, Thailand and the Advisor and the Founder of Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), delivered the keynote speech. She explained the challenges ahead in monitoring and countering tobacco industry interference and the way and tools to overcome those challenges. She also emphasized the need to advocate for countering tobacco industry interference beyond mere monitoring.

The Chief Guest, Senior Professor Chandrika N Wijeyaratne, the Vice Chancellor, University of Colombo, delivered her speech highlighting the active role played by the CCT in making some of the policy decisions of the university.

Certificates of the completion of the Fellowship were awarded virtually in the presence of Senior Professor Chandrika N Wijeyaratne,Dr. Rana J. Singh and Dr. Mahesh Rajasuriya. Professor Vajira Dissanayake, the Dean, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, read out the names of the Fellows during the virtual awarding.

Representing SARC-CCT Fellows of 2021, Dr. Shivam Kapoor from India, who is the Technical Adviser, The Union, expressed the training they received to develop their tobacco industry monitoring capacity including information compilation and dissemination in relation to their respective countries and the importance of networking in monitoring.

The virtual convocation ceremony was concluded following the Vote of Thanks delivered by Ms. Chinthika Perera, Project officer of CCT.