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Medical students to help smokers kick the butt

UNDERGRADUATE students in two State medical colleges will undergo tobacco education and cessation training from next week. 

Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute and Kasturba Medical College, Mangalore, are among five medical colleges in India to implement the project on tobacco education programme in the undergraduate curriculum.

“The idea of the project is to educate students on the perilous effects of tobacco,” said Dr K R Thankappan of Quit Tobacco International, the nodal agency for the project in India.

The project enables future doctors to get tobacco awareness and refer patients to tobacco cessation centres during their clinical practice.

The five-year project with a $4,00,000 grant from Fogarty International Centre for Advanced Study in Health Sciences at the National Institute of Health, USA, will be implemented in India and Indonesia. Both countries reportedly have high use of tobacco.
Thankappan said tobacco use was increasing manifold in India. As a result, diseases arising from it will become a huge burden for the country. 

Twelve out of the 15 modules of the project have been developed and study material will be incorporated into the regular curriculum of every department.

Thus, if a student is learning cardiology, the faculty would explain the effect of tobacco on the heart. “The intention is that every batch should be exposed to the module at least once,” he said.

A baseline survey on tobacco use among students and faculty in these medical colleges showed that about 12 per cent of the students were smokers.

The Vice-Chancellor of Kerala University of Health and Allied Sciences has agreed to integrate the tobacco education module in the 22 medical colleges affiliated to it. The Medical Council of India too has evinced interest in the project and may include it in the curriculum next year, he added.

The other two aspects of the project are training medical students and faculty on helping patients quit smoking and community-based campaign to create smoke free homes.

(Published in Deccan Herald on 10th February, 2011)

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