CECHE Center for Communications, Health and the Environment
Winter 2002 Vol. 10, Issue 1
Partnerships Promote Global Health
World Health Report '02 Makes Prevention Top Global Priority

This year's World Health Report, "Reducing Risks, Promoting Healthy Life," (www.who.int/whr) provides powerful reasons for greater investment in disease prevention and health promotion.
The report documents the impact of major risks for death and disease, and provides a template to help policy-makers orient their work towards tackling major health risks. It also highlights the cost-effectiveness of many policy measures at population and individual levels. In a report of the Macroeconomic Commission on Health, for example, Jeff Sachs placed the cost-effectiveness of tobacco control in developing countries at par with tuberculosis, malaria and measles control. And WHO estimates that improved tobacco control could potentially avert most of the 5 million deaths attributed to tobacco use worldwide.

The report provides compelling data. In developed countries, and in lower middle-income countries such as Brazil, China and Thailand, six of the top 10 risks to health are directly related to cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancers and other chronic diseases, it reveals. These risks include tobacco use, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, increased body mass, low fruit and vegetable consumption, excess alcohol intake and physical inactivity. [see full article...]

Russian Cancer Center to Motivate, Train Doctors in Tobacco Control

Russia has one of the highest smoking prevalences in the world: 63 percent of men and 10 percent of women there smoke.

Tobacco billboards "push" smoking in Russia.
Sadly, the percentage of smoking women aged 20-29 in Russia rose from 10 percent in 1985 to 30 percent in 2000, while overall tobacco consumption in the country is increasing 1.5 to 2 percent per year. Already, 30 percent of total male deaths and 4 percent of total female deaths in the country can be attributed to smoking.

Despite this health and human toll, however, efforts to control tobacco use in Russia are minimal and, for the most part, ineffective. In fact, the effect of tobacco addiction is underestimated, and little cessation help is provided in-country – with no professional cessation counseling or assistance available in the national public health service at all. Moreover, smoking prevalence among Russian physicians mirrors that of the general population, hence the majority of them cannot model non-smoking behavior and maintain little or no interest in providing smoking cessation counseling to patients. Ironically, these same physicians may be the best source of a clear, strong and personalized cessation, or for that matter smoking prevention, message, especially since health professionals (doctors in particular) are traditionally perceived as the most valuable, credible and reliable source of health information (Fowler, 1997).

There is a critical need for cost-effective, popular, available and applicable methods to encourage and train physicians in the Russian Federation to champion smoking cessation among patients. [see full article...]

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