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Dubai: The Ministry of Health and Prevention recently launched a training programme for enhancing the scientific and practical capabilities and skills of 500 doctors from its cadres, to provide smoking cessation services in clinics inside primary health care centres, based on a standardised guideline aligned with the latest methods of treatment available globally.

Speaking on the first-of-its-kind programme in the country, Dr Hussein Abdel Rahman Al-Rand, Undersecretary in the Ministry’s Health Assistant Sector, Health Centers and Clinics, said: “The training programme to develop doctors’ skills in helping those willing to quit smoking comes as part of MoHAP’s constant endeavours, alongside its relevant partners, to reduce the rate of smokers in the country, based on successful international experiences.

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He explained that the outcomes of the National Health Survey revealed the rate of smoking among adults has dropped to 18 per cent since 2010, attributing this to several governmental legislative measures, such as Federal Law No (15) of 2009 concerning tobacco control and its executive regulations, health education campaigns and initiatives, the mobile clinic for smoking cessation and the increased number of smoking cessation clinics to 16, in addition to implementing the selective tax on tobacco products.

“Smoking has hazardous fallouts such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and mental illnesses, in addition to the economic burden whether through increased expenses on health care, or indirect costs represented in the low productivity of society due to rates of premature death and the prevalence of diseases,” Al Rand pointed out.

Dr Haifa Faris, Deputy Director of the Primary Health Care Department, said: “The six-week programme will be based on Maharati healthcare eTraining system, including practical sessions and an evaluation of the trainees by specialised trainers, in order to obtain a certificate qualifying them to provide smoking cessation services.”

She noted that Emirati doctors have prepared the scientific material for the training programme which will include all doctors with various specialties.

Smoke-free policies: UAE scores high

Prevalence of tobacco use is an indicator that measures the daily consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products among different segments of society of different ages.

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The World Health Organisation recently published its seventh report on the global tobacco epidemic in which it revealed that there are an estimated 1.1 billion smokers worldwide, around 80 per cent of whom live in low- and middle-income countries. The report noted significant progress towards smoking cessation policies implemented by governments, including the UAE - which scored nine out 10 (the highest possible compliance score) for setting smoke-free policies.

The UAE also attained a ‘complete policy’ rating for its smoking cessation programmes.

Al-Rand attributed such results and outcomes to several government legislative measures, including Federal Law No. 15 of 2009 on tobacco controls, along with excise taxes on tobacco and tobacco products in the country.

The UAE National Agenda was announced in 2010. It aims to reduce the prevalence of smoking and increase the UAE’s healthcare system’s readiness to deal with epidemics and health risks.