The central Himalayan country Nepal, population 29.4 million, is finding help in combating the top common diseases ailing Nepalese citizens. The three most common diseases in Nepal are lung disease, coronary heart disease and stroke. Nepal is ranked third in the world for lung disease.
These common diseases are the health effects of smoking, but the rate of these diseases has the potential to drastically decrease as the number of smokers decline. Nearly 16 percent of Nepalese population (15–69 years) are currently smoking, and 85 percent of those individuals are daily smokers. Samriddha Raj Pant from Nepal speaks on the prevalence of smoking in his country: “I have grown up in a society that labeled smoking as fashionable. During my childhood there were lots of tobacco advertisements, with lots of contacts who smoked.”
In The Journal of Tobacco Induced Diseases, an assessment of nicotine dependence among smokers in Nepal presented that dependence is prevalent, killing more than 15,000 people annually of whom 60 percent are male. The assessment stated the median age for smoking initiation was 16 (13–20) years.
The Nepalese people are trying to quit. Half of the respondents in the assessment wanted to quit smoking. Again, Pant has seen the same trend: “they left smoking step by step once health statutory warnings popped up.” This motivated Pant to found Education Against Tobacco in Nepal.
Education Against Tobacco spans 13 counties, encouraging 70 participating medical schools to volunteer 1,500 medical students. Pant is focusing Education Against Tobacco in Nepal on “community schools (like the ones I grew up studying in), as the socio-economic backdrop of the students is relatively weaker than those in private schools.” The common diseases in Nepal are being treated at the source — smoking — by educating children and preventing a new generation of smokers.
Education Against Tobacco supplies schools with an interactive station, in which students upload photos of themselves to “simulate the fundamental harmful mechanisms of smoking that affect the body, as well as to provide age-relevant and relatable examples to strengthen their self-responsibility and self-awareness.”
With the global force of doctors supplying education, smoking in Nepal may decrease across growing generations. The effects of smoking, which are also the most common diseases in Nepal, will only become less prevalent as the population kicks the habit.
– Yosef Mahmoud