Twenty Nine participants from fourteen health and social agencies in Saint Lucia recently benefitted from a PAHO/WHO sponsored virtual workshop on treating tobacco dependence.
The workshop is the first component of the project which will lead to training of additional personnel seeking help to quit use of tobacco products. Held over a two day period, it brought together contributors from the PAHO/WHO in the United States, Switzerland and the Caribbean.
Regional Advisor for Tobacco Control of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Francisco Armada Perez reiterated the rationale for the workshop.
“Tobacco cessation is an important component of tobacco control. Article 14 of the framework convention on tobacco control mandates each party to establish healthcare facilities, and rehab centres, programmes for diagnosing, counselling, preventing and treating tobacco dependence, among several other methods, concerning tobacco dependency and cessation. The benefits of tobacco cessation have been amply supported by evidence and this includes improved health by those who quit, and similar gains for their families.”
It has been estimated that 60% of the world’s 1.3 billion tobacco users have expressed a desire to quit. But only 33% have access to the tools to help them do so. Minister for Health and Wellness, Senator the Honourable Mary Isaac, who addressed the opening ceremony, explained how the workshop could help bridge this gap locally.
“This project will strengthen our capacity to help those to quit the use of tobacco. We know this process can be very challenging for those who are motivated. But nicotine addiction often thwarts the efforts of those willing to quit. This initiative adds another critical achievement in the broader tobacco control efforts of the Department of Health and other stakeholders.”
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was unanimously adopted in 2003. Saint Lucia was one of the first countries in the OECS to implement a tobacco cessation programme. One hundred and eighty-two countries have signed onto the convention, covering more than 90% of the world’s population.