Workshop in Morocco highlights research efforts, opportunities in African tobacco control

International tobacco control researchers recently met in Marrakech, Morocco for a workshop examining existing research efforts and gaps related to current tobacco control efforts across the continent. Tobacco Control in the African Continent: Research to Practice, sponsored by the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa (WHO AFRO), Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA) and Mayo Clinic, aimed to identify opportunities to advance responsive policies for African countries’ needs.

Global Bridges grantee Dr. Kemi Odukoya, a public health physician and senior lecturer at the University of Lagos College of Medicine, presented a case study on the role of physicians and dentists in Nigerian tobacco cessation efforts. Her project works to increase physician-assisted tobacco cessation among patients in tertiary hospitals by identifying, training and working with resident doctors to prioritize and practice tobacco cessation within their local work settings. Following a two-day training, the doctors received email and SMS follow up. In the near future, the project will work to implement tobacco cessation training for nurses and other health care workers and develop smoking cessation apps.

Though participants noted a number of challenges to tobacco control in Africa, including the tobacco industry’s strong influence, their presentations showed there is a wide range of research projects already under way in the region aiming to address these difficulties. Tobacco use is a challenge in both the northern and southern regions of the continents, highlighting important differences to consider in regard to cultural and political factors. Participants concluded that building stronger links and sharing experience in tobacco control and cessation efforts will benefit efforts across the continent.

Thank you to the National Cancer Institute for providing a summary of this event.