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Dissemination Seminar on 'Compliance with Tobacco Control Act among the Government Health Care Facilities of Dhaka City'

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National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh organized a dissemination seminar of the study on 'Compliance with Tobacco Control Act among the Government Health Care Facilities of Dhaka City' on 13 January 2020, Monday at the National Press Club. The survey was conducted conducted to assess the implementation situation of tobacco control act in all government hospitals in Dhaka. After the seminar, DGHS issued a letter to all hospital authorities to display anti-tobacco signage.

At the very beginning of the seminar Program Officer of the Anti-Tobacco Program of the National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh, Dr. Ahmad Khairul Abrar presented the keynote paper. He said the survey was conducted in 51 hospitals in Dhaka City.

Under the Tobacco Use (Control) Act, hospitals in the country are supposed to be completely tobacco free. But the reality is that, the survey found evidences of smoking such as cigarette butt, smell of smoke in 71% the public hospitals in Dhaka. Although smoking was seen in one-third of the hospitals.

Nearly two-thirds of the hospitals in Dhaka have been found to have evidences of smokeless tobacco use. And smokeless tobacco use has been reported in almost half of hospitals (45%). According to the survey, tobacco products are sold within 100 meters of the 80 percent government hospital in Dhaka. Even there are 18 percent hospitals, where tobacco products are sold within the hospital premises.

On the other hand, it is important to have a tobacco cessation clinic to assist patients and visitors to the hospital to quit tobacco. But only 2% of hospitals in the capital have this facility.

The seminar was presided over by President of National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh National Professor Brigadier (retd) Abdul Malik. Dr. Habibe Millat MP was chaired as chief guest in the seminar.

In his speech, Dr. Habibe Millat MP said, all hospitals in the country must have anti-tobacco signage according to the tobacco control act. He requested DGHS to ensure the regulation immediately. He also requested to take legal measures to stop the sale of tobacco within 100 meters of hospitals. In the event Dr. Habibe Millat MP requested the Manager of Non-communicable Disease Control Program Dr. Rayhan-e-Jannat to take immediate action, who was attended the event as a special guest. As a result DGHS issued the letter to ensure anti-tobacco signage display in all hospitals.

Dr. Habibe Millat also announced to work with 100 MPs to reform the tobacco tax structure and raise taxes.

Among others, Shamima Ferdous, Deputy Secretary (World Health) Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Prof. Dr. Mollah Obaydullah, president of Bangladesh Cancer Society and members of different anti-tobacco organizations attended the seminar.

Speakers at the seminar said that smoked tobacco products such as cigarettes and biri do not only cause serious harm to the health of the consumers, but also to the people around them. Indirect smoking can lead to lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory problems, stroke and reproductive problems. In the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) 2017, about 13 percent of people suffer from indirect smoking, even in important places like hospitals.

The survey findings drew huge attention of the media houses. More than 30 news stories were published on the event in different national dailies.