Integrate tobacco control in medical curriculum: Study


New Delhi: In view of increasing tobacco use and its serious health hazards, a study has recommended that information on the hazards of tobacco use and cessation should be formally made a part of the medical curriculum in India.

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The study ‘Tobacco Control and the Training of Health Care Providers’ released Friday emphasises that there is an urgent need to integrate tobacco control into public health and the Medical Council of India (MCI) should be responsible for developing a tobacco cessation training manual for medical students and health care providers.

“Tobacco cessation techniques should be formally included in the undergraduate and postgraduate medical curriculum. Clinics for tobacco cessation should be started in each medical school and appropriate training should be given to faculty,” said Alok Mukhopadhyay of Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), which conducted the study.

The study shows that a substantial proportion of medical students in India smoke or use tobacco products. In the current climate of disease prevention and health promotion, smoking behaviour of future physicians and health providers have become increasingly significant.

“Although, there may be many health care professionals today who believe that it is important to address the issue of tobacco use with patients and give cessation advice but they do not have adequate training or support to do so effectively,” he said.

According to health experts, the health ministry should bring tobacco under the category of National Communicable Disease (NCD).

“The study comes at an opportune moment when MCI is seriously thinking of revamping the medical curriculum. The MCI should seriously consider bringing tobacco under the category of NCD,” said L.M. Nath, an expert in community medicine.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death globally, causing 5 million deaths a year, out of which close to 1 million deaths are in India.