An interview with Dr Latif, Director of the Department of Tobacco Control in Edinburgh for the last six years.
Q: What is your current role and what does this involve?
A: I oversee all tobacco control programmes at The Union, ensuring these conform to The Union’s values of quality, accountability, solidarity and independence.
Q: What is your main area of expertise?
A: Public health policy formulation and adoption in low and middle income countries – focusing on tobacco control, and using this experience to inform other preventive programmes for NCD risk factors.
Initially I trained as a paediatrician, but turned to public health as it became clear that sitting in a clinical setting would not address the huge gaps in public health policy. I was motivated by the lack of emphasis on preventive health.
Q: What are you working on right now?
A: I’m working across a range of projects globally, to develop and implement tobacco control measures – advising governments on how to institutionalise tobacco control. Sustainability is a key part of my work for 2015 - 2016, ensuring that these programmes are resourced adequately at country level and enabling governments to develop, adopt and implement tobacco control into the future.
Q: What do you consider the most important thing for advancing tobacco control?
A: Human resource. As long as we have dedicated people supporting tobacco control we are bound to succeed. Financial resources are important, but it is the people and their passion that will ensure significant reductions in tobacco use globally, and halt the epidemic of disease and poverty it causes.
Q: Where would you most like to travel?
A: My generation grew up with the ‘Star Trek’ phenomena and I have always been fascinated by space, the universe, galaxies. I would love to explore space, ‘to boldly go where no one has gone before’. Maybe not in actual travel – I’m too old for that – but to read about it, enjoy its mysteries and vastness.