News Desk : dhakamirror.com
Experts at a workshop called upon health professionals to play their due role in making Bangladesh a tobacco free country.
The health professionals have a prominent role to play in this regard, they observed while addressing a ‘workshop with health professionals on the present situation of tobacco cessation: Challenges and Way-Forward’ at Meghna Hall of BIAM Foundation at Eskaton Road in the capital.
Bangladesh Blind Mission (BBM), a NGO working on health, education and disability issues, organized the event today (Thursday), as part of involving physicians in an anti-tobacco campaign, aimed at making the country tobacco free by 2040.
While presenting a keynote paper, Dr Subrina Ahmed, a physician of Milvik Bangladesh, said, the doctors have the trust of people, the mass media, opinion leaders, and their voices are heard across a vast range of social, economic, and political arenas. At the individual level, they can educate the population on the harms of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. They can also help tobacco users overcome their addiction.
At the community level, health professionals can be initiators or supporters of some of the policy measures by engaging, for example, in efforts to promote smoke-free workplaces and extending the availability of tobacco cessation resources. At the societal level, health professionals can add their voice and their weight to national and global tobacco control efforts like tax increase campaigns, she observed.
While presenting another keynote paper, Shamsal Islam, epidemiologist of Ispahani Eye Institute and Hospital, Dhaka said that there are 37.8 million tobacco users in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the sixth-largest consumer market for tobacco in the world.
Tobacco use is higher in rural areas (37.1%), among those from poor socioeconomic backgrounds, and among those with lower levels of education. Tobacco use is also considerably higher among men (46%) compared to women (25.2%), he said citing statistics.
Referring to the consequences of tobacco use, he said in 2018, tobacco use accounted for more than 126,000 deaths, or 13.5% of all deaths in the country. More than 24,000 deaths were attributed to secondhand smoking exposure. Tobacco causes a substantial economic burden, totaling an estimated $3.6 billion annually.
Highlighting the importance of healthcare professionals in curbing the use of all tobacco products, he said the doctors can advise their patients to quit; offer brief counseling; prescribe cessation medications, connect them to additional resources, like a quit-line; follow up with continued support to help prevent relapse.
Joel Ahmed, president of BBM, was in the chair, while Umme Kausar Sumona of BBM, moderated it.
Prof Dr AHM Mustafizur Rahman, former Vice Chancellor of Jatiyo Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Mymensingh, attended as the chief guest, while Brigadier General (retd) Khondoker Mohammad Mozammel Haque, advisor of BBM, attended as a special guest.
About 23 doctors from across the country took part in the workshop. – Press release