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First Private-Run Tobacco Addiction Clinic Opens in Jeddah
Date : 12 May 2011

As part of Saudi Arabia's ongoing efforts to combat smoking, Dr. Mazen Fakeeh, director general of Dr. Soliman Fakeeh Hospital, opened Wednesday the first private clinic for people seeking help in kicking the nasty tobacco habit. Officials, health care professionals, medical staff and specialists were among those present at the opening.

Dr. Mohammed Majed Barzanji, consultant pediatric allergy and respiratory diseases, said recent studies confirmed that smoking was a major cause of death worldwide, including Saudi Arabia.

Quoting the World Health Organization, he said: "Smoking is addiction requiring treatment and medical assistance. The cost of treating smoking associated diseases is fairly high and exhausts local resources and budgets allocated to health care, thus adding more economic burdens on health care institutions and the country in general."

A latest research shows that there is an increasing trend among the people wishing to quit smoking on various grounds, especially with the availability of new successful treatment solutions eliminating nicotine addiction, giving hope for smokers to quit and enhance their confidence of getting rid of nicotine addiction and its severe withdrawal symptoms.

Giving an example of the huge cost of the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, being a major morbid condition resulting from nicotine addiction and the second most common cause of hospitalization in the Kingdom by up to 18 percent, Barzanji said: "Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was the fourth most important cause of death in the country."

Barzanji presented statistics suggesting that smokers in Saudi Arabia spend more than SR5 billion to buy some 40,000 tons of tobacco annually, which is equivalent to the cost of the Kingdom's import of basic food items such as rice. "This scary fact sheds light on the severity of direct economic losses incurred by the Kingdom as a result of smoking, not to mention other losses related to the high cost of the treatment of serious diseases associated with smoking," he said.

The new smoking cessation clinic is yet another tangible move in combating smoking, said Dr. Rabia Khatoon, consultant family medicine.

The new clinic at the hospital will give evidence-based treatment and counseling with regards to the smoking cessation.

"We have involved our heath educators to give patients a basic knowledge about smoking cessation and positive aspect of abstinence from smoking. We will place posters and show videos on hospital TV channel and MBC and publish in magazines and newspaper to increase the awareness among general public. Every year, we will organize a No Smoking Day on May 31. We have sent hospital wide emails to increase the awareness among our staff regarding smoking cessation clinic and its working hours. We have involved other health care professionals and they will refer their patients who wish to quit to the smoking cessation clinic for treatment," said Fakeeh.


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