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Author: savemalaysia   |   Latest post: Mon, 29 Nov 2021, 7:29 PM


Medical community unanimously calls for regulation of harm reduction ecosystem

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KUALA LUMPUR: The Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM), a national body representing doctors in private practice in Malaysia, concluded its first tobacco harm reduction (THR) conference over the weekend, attended by more than 150 participants from the medical community.

In total, 13 speakers, including three international THR experts, presented studies, opinions and recommendations on THR.

"We are pleased that the first THR conference in Malaysia was well attended by our fellow health practitioners. The conference highlighted the differing views, but there was agreement that the harm from smoking is a longstanding universal issue and needs to be effectively addressed," FPMPAM president Dr Steven Chow said in a statement today.

"More than 1.1 billion people smoke worldwide, resulting in cardiovascular diseases, various cancers, and obstructive lung diseases. 

"Globally, this quiet pandemic claims the lives of approximately five million people per year, a figure that will rise to 10 million by 2030, with the burden of death increasingly being felt by many developing and under-developed countries," he said.

Dr Steven said the medical community has a vital role to play in fighting tobacco addiction.

"Collectively, we agree that THR has the potential to contribute toward smoking cessation, which remains the primary goal of our community," he said.

Aimed at members of the scientific, public health and medical community, the virtual conference facilitated the exchange of ideas, knowledge, research findings and recommendations for the adoption of THR in Malaysia.

Local speakers included Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia faculty of medicine deputy dean (relation and wealth creation) and lecturer for the department of community health Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh, Monash University Malaysia school of medicine and health sciences deputy head (education), consultant psychiatrist and associate professor Dr Sivakumar Thurairajasingam and Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur consultant respiratory physician Dr Lily Diana.

In addition to local medical professionals, the conference also featured three international speakers namely Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco founding member and deputy editor of the Nicotine & Tobacco Research Karl Fagerstrom from Sweden, University of Patras (Greece) external research associate, department of public and community health Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos and Action on Smoking and Health (UK) former director and tobacco harm reduction expert Clive Bates.

Dr Steven said the first step in the successful implementation of THR strategies in Malaysia requires comprehensive regulation of the entire ecosystem.

"Regulations must be based on sound evidence, patient-centred and allow adult smokers access to THR information and treatment options," he said.

The conference called for general practitioners (GP) to be specially trained and to offer smoking cessation counselling and treatment as part and parcel of their daily practice.

At the end of the day, population health measures need to be translated to individual patients seeking help from their doctor, Dr Steven said.

"Engagement with all stakeholders and consumers is important to ensure regulations will work for the individual wanting to quit smoking," Dr Steven said.



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