Tobacco dependence treatment workshop in Muscat: a testimony to Oman’s commitment to changing the landscape

King Hussein Cancer Center, the regional host for Global Bridges in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, held a workshop in the Omani capital Muscat earlier this week on tobacco dependence treatment (TDT). The workshop, taking place at the Sultan Qaboos University over three days, materialized as a collaborative effort between the Omani Ministry of Health – Non-communicable diseases directorate, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman Respiratory Society, Oman Committee for Improving Respiratory Services, and Oman Anti-tobacco Society. With the above mentioned organizations contributing technically and financially to the workshop, the organizers were successful in engaging the telecom industry ‘Omantel’ as a sponsor; a first in the region. The workshop earned coverage through various forms of media including newspapers and radio.

While prevalence of tobacco use may be low in Oman compared to other countries of the region, it is on the rise among younger generations. Thus, advocates in Oman are interested in introducing TDT as part of comprehensive efforts to address the issue of tobacco. In fact, another workshop entitled “Putting tobacco control on the national stage” was held to address activists and advocates and allow for sharing of experiences between Oman and Jordan to create opportunities for improvement.

About half of the participants in the TDT workshop came from the Ministry of Health clinics representing all districts. Other participants were affiliated with the Sultan Qaboos University, the Royal Hospital, the Armed Forces, and the private sector – specifically companies interested in employee well-being and health. While the participants largely came from a general practice and family medicine backgrounds, some held degrees in diabetes management and child health. In addition, a few nurses were among the participants.

The audience for the tobacco control workshop, while coming from various backgrounds, shared an interest and obligation to advancing tobacco control in Oman. The audience was highly engaged and committed throughout both workshops, demonstrating a strong belief in their obligation to addressing tobacco control in Oman.

The TDT workshop introduced the harmful effects of tobacco use and its association with non-communicable diseases including cancer, respiratory diseases, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It then trained participants on evidence-based TDT utilizing counseling and pharmacotherapies to develop an individualized plan per patient and presented real-life scenarios from the practice of the trainers. The tobacco control workshop discussed the various MPOWER strategies and presented what has been done in Jordan and Oman in terms of monitoring, protection, research, offering TDT, and creating awareness.

About the Author: Rasha Bader is Head of Planning and Project Management at the Cancer Control Office at KHCC and is the Operations Manager for Global Bridges in the Eastern Mediterranean Region.