WHO Collaborating Centre for tobacco control launches the Fellowship Programme
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), China announced a record-low smoking prevalence of 10.7% in Nov 2013. Designated as the WHO Collaborating Centre for Smoking Cessation and Treatment of Tobacco Dependence, Tobacco Control Office of Department of Health, Hong Kong SAR organized the first Fellowship Programme on Tobacco Control on 18-22 November 2013.
To mark the launch of the programme, Dr Carmen Audera-Lopez, Acting Team Leader of Tobacco Free Initiative, WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, and Professor Sophia Chan, the Under Secretary for Food and Health, Hong Kong SAR officiated the opening of the fellowship programme and welcomed fellows from the different countries on 18 November 2013.
The fellowship programme targeted at middle managers in tobacco control. This year, delegates from various member states of the Western Pacific Region, namely, Brunei Darussalam, China, Fiji, Republic of Korea, Macao SAR (China), Malaysia, Mongolia and the Philippines have joined the five-day programme. Over 30 professionals from non-governmental organizations have also attended the programme as observers.
The Fellowship Programme emphasizes on mastering of skills in tobacco control, including legislation, enforcement, advocacy and publicity, development and evaluation of cessation programmes. The programme is structured according to the MPOWER measures laid down by WHO to assist in the implementation of effective measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, contained in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Through exchange of ideas and experiences, fellows have equipped with enhanced knowledge, strengthened skills and new perspectives in developing and implementing tobacco control strategies at their countries.
There are a few highlights of the programme, including presentations by overseas and local tobacco control experts. Dr David McFadden of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center, enlightened the participants on the pharmacotherapy used in nicotine dependence. Ms Fiona Sharkie, Executive Director of Quit Victoria, shared her expertise on operation of quitline and use of new media in smoking cessation. Professor Judith Mackay, also shared her views on cutting edge of tobacco control including endgame, crop diversification and e-cigarettes. Experience sharing session is another highlight of the programme. Fellows presented their countries’ smoking situations and their plans on tobacco control strategies. Local tobacco control experts, including Prof TH Lam, Dr Homer Tso, Ms Lisa Lau and Dr Christine Wong, also shared with the participants experience on tobacco control in Hong Kong SAR.
Besides presentations, fellows also had opportunities to visit various community-based smoking cessation clinics and school-based smoking prevention programme. Fellows were eager to have hands-on experience on various methods for smoking cessation including acupuncture. They also learnt the strategies in enforcing the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance, Cap. 371, through interactive discussion and video demonstration of the difficult scenarios.
The second Fellowship Programme is tentatively scheduled to be held in Hong Kong SAR in November 2014. Details will be announced in due course.