Vanguard (Lagos)

21 May 2012

Nigeria: Health Experts Want Smoking Cessation at All Levels

Photo: Freedom from Nicotine
Mauritius leads Africa in carrying graphic notices on cigarette packs, warning for example of the dangers smoking holds for children.

Irked by rising number of deaths and diseases associated with smoking, health experts have stressed the need for government at all levels to adopt preventive comprehensive health education programmes on smoking cessation and control.

The experts under the auspices of the World Association of Family Doctors, WONCA, noted that the estimated death rate of 4.9m people in 1999 was expected to rise to 10m by 2020, out of which would affect 7m people in developing countries including Nigeria.

In his submission at a lecture to commemorate this year's World Family Day with the theme: "Healthy Living: The Role of the Family Doctor, Smoking Cessation Among Doctors and in the Community," the Africa Regional President of WONCA, Dr. Sylvester Osinowo pointed out that smoking had been identified to cause the heaviest burden of morbidity and mortality on Nigerians compared to any other risk factor

Osinowo stated that smoking caused coronary heart diseases, cancer and reduction in fertility for women added that it also posed adverse social, economic and developmental effects on the lives of individuals, their families and the community at large.

His words, "Tobacco consumption causes multiple health risks as cigarette smokers are 2.4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than non-smokers. WHO cancer agency also indicates that smoking has been linked to about 90 percent of all lung cancer cases"

"The economic burden includes direct medical care cost for tobacco-induced illnesses, absence from work, reduction in productivity and death."he said.

He said "the primary health care centers being the nearest to the people should be empowered to do push programmes with vigour to catch the youths before they adopt the serious health hazard habit.

The President recommended that anti-smoking clinics be established in the PHCs and sickbay of colleges and tertiary institutions to rehabilitate those who were enmeshed already in the habit.

He also appealed to family physicians and general medical practitioners disengage themselves from habits such as smoking so as to be good role models for the society to follow.

Speaking,the National President of the Association of General Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria, AGPMPN, Dr Anthony Omolola said that preventive healthcare through annual check up by a doctor was the best healthy living strategy.

On the importance of family doctor, Omolola notes that their roles could not be over emphasized in the medical treatment as family doctors are the ones closer to the patient, have a personal relationship with him thereby making it easier to treat him or her.

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