Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) Malawi, a project under the United Kingdom’s Knowledge Action Change, is exploring ways to help the country’s tobacco smokers to quit or switch to safer alternatives.
Speaking at a workshop on Wednesday in Lilongwe, THR project manager Chimwemwe Ngoma highlighted the importance of giving people the right information on the dangers of smoking and how tobacco harm can be reduced.
“The tobacco harm reduction project is focusing on helping people to quit smoking, but in case they are unable to quit because they are addicted to the nicotine, we are hoping they can switch to safer alternatives of nicotine consumption which are thought to be less harmful,” he said.
Ngoma cited the less harmful alternatives as electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), which are said to be 95 percent less harmful than the combustible ones.
Ministry of Health deputy director of clinical services responsible for non-communicable diseases and mental health Kaponda Masiye said 35 percent of disease burden in the country is due to non-communicable diseases with one of the causes being tobacco smoking.
“Getting people to stop smoking takes patience. We have managed to help some to stop, but as a ministry and working with other organisations like THR, we are still trying. For those who have stopped, it is a plus for us,” he said.
Some of the effects of tobacco smoking include lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, stroke and diabetes. Although reports indicate that half of the people who smoke die prematurely from smoking related diseases, one of the THR scholars Patrick Kuyokwa noted that every death caused by tobacco smoking can be prevented.