A competent needs-based health workforce, aligned to local priorities is essential to addressing the increasing Non-Communicable Diseases in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) such as Uganda. Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) and the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa (CTCA), pioneer a training for health professionals on integrating tobacco cessation services into TB services in Kampala, Uganda. The training is premised on a research Project on Integrating Tobacco cessation into TB Programs using mHealth Solutions funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Twenty-four (24) health care professionals from 13 regional referral hospitals, 5 district hospitals, and 6 health facilities in Kampala City where TB treatment is offered participated in the training.
The overall goal of the training was to strengthen knowledge, skills, and competencies on tobacco cessation and how to integrate TB and tobacco control services in a research setting environment. Specifically, the training focused on; (1) Increasing knowledge on TB-Tobacco integration, (2) Strengthening knowledge on tobacco use, effects, impact, and cessation; and (3) Increasing knowledge on the approaches to improve health outcomes using mHealth solutions.
The training was facilitated by a team of experts on tobacco control, TB, research and mHealth solutions from MakSPH, CTCA, Ministry of Health of Uganda, WHO (Afro and Geneva)-Be Healthy Be Mobile Initiative and renown Scientists from the East Tennessee State University (ETSU).
The training was eye-opening for many of the health workers who confessed they had very little or no knowledge on tobacco use burden, effects, impact and how to support their patients who smoke to quit.
“Why have you taken this long, without informing health workers of this very dangerous [tobacco] products and their effects? We are the interface with the community, and our communities are very ignorant about the dangers of tobacco use…This training is so important to me and I will do my best to sensitize communities.” (Female Health Worker during the training).
Another health worker said:
This research is very important for the TB patients, we have been collecting smoking data from TB patients but we have not known how to use it. Now with this training we can use the smoking data to help TB patients quit tobacco use (Female Health Worker during the training)
The training of the health workers was an integral part of a 3-year USAID-funded project to integrate mHealth solutions for tobacco control into TB programmes across Uganda to ensure that patients with TB who use tobacco quit tobacco use and increase adherence to treatment.