By Noimot Olayiwola/Staff Reporter
A Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) is being launched today in a bid to gather data on tobacco use among residents aged 15 years and above. The initiative, which is expected to boost anti-tobacco programmes in Qatar, will continue until May 6.
Launched by the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) in partnership with the Qatar Statistics Authority (QSA), GATS is being conducted as part of a global surveillance system that helps strengthen the capacity of countries to design, implement and evaluate interventions for tobacco control, the use of which has become a global concern.
Qatar is the second country in the Arab world to conduct the survey, which is expected
to serve as a model for other Gulf states.
During the survey, women and men above the age of 15 will be questioned across 8,000 households. These will be equally divided into Qatari and non-Qatari households. The study will not include labourers and domestic workers.
The preliminary results will be published in early August while the final report is expected in November.
The US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and RTI International initiated GATS in 2007 to assess the status of tobacco consumption among the countries participating in the survey.
Both RTI International and CDC, as well as the regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO), will provide technical support to the Qatar survey.
Speaking at a press conference held at the SCH yesterday, Public Health Department director Dr Mohamed bin Hamad al-Thani explained that the community-based survey would play a very important role in highlighting the alarming spread of tobacco consumption and pinpointing the negative impact of the same on public health, besides its disease burden.
“The results of the survey will give a clear picture of tobacco consumption in all its forms among adults, smoking cessation, trends and perceptions of tobacco consumption in Qatar,” Dr Mohamed al-Thani said.
He said GATS would also measure the effects of media coverage and advertising by tobacco companies on usage, besides estimating the incidence of exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS). “The study will reflect the level of tobacco consumption, quitting tobacco, the economics of tobacco (exchange rate of buying different varieties), media campaigns that promote tobacco consumption, and knowledge, beliefs and attitudes vis-à-vis tobacco consumption,” the official explained.
SCH Non-Communicable Diseases section head Dr Khulood al-Muttawa said, “The survey methods are based on a global standard methodology for collecting data. The study will follow a global protocol that has been reviewed and revised to be culturally appropriate for the Qatari community.”
She explained that one family member would be selected to fill out a household questionnaire with the help of a PDA (personal digital assistant). The data would be collected by around 100 researchers equipped with electronic handheld devices.
QSA Information Technology Administration head Mansour al-Malki said the digital format of collating data has been introduced to expedite the process, adding that there will be satellite centres spread across the country.
Other officials present at the press meet were Dr Alanoud al-Thani, SCH Health Promotion and Non-Communicable Diseases section head, Dr Heba Fouad from the WHO regional office in the Eastern Mediterranean’s Tobacco Free Initiative, and Nasser Salim, QSA Accounts for Family Survey and Statistics Administration director.
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