One-third of Oman’s population exposed to second-hand smoke
December 5, 2018 | 9:00 PM
by Times News Service
Some 27.9 per cent of Oman’s population is exposed to second-hand smoke, causing serious harm to their health.

Muscat: Nearly one-third of Oman’s population is exposed to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, which could cause long-term damage to their health, a new data released by the Ministry of Health revealed.

Some 27.9 per cent of Oman’s population is exposed to second-hand smoke, causing serious harm to their health, says the new National Health Survey on Non Communicable Diseases.

Of this number, 16.7 per cent of people at home and 11.2 per cent of people at work suffer exposure to second-hand smoke. The number was slightly lower for non-Omanis at 27 per cent (10.7 per cent at work and 16.3 per cent at home), and slightly higher for Omanis at 28.3 per cent (11.5 per cent at work and 16.8 per cent at home).

In addition, 25.1 per cent of women in the survey claimed exposure to second-hand smoke, of which 15.2 per cent was at home and 8.9 per cent was at work. It was, however, significantly higher for men, 29.9 per cent of whom said they suffered from second-hand smoke exposure, with 11.8 per cent claiming they suffered from it at work, and 18.1 per cent saying they had this problem

at home.

The survey was carried out on a sample size of 9,045 Omani and non-Omani families distributed across all governorates of the Sultanate in cooperation with the competent departments of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation.

It takes into account several lifestyle-influencing factors, including the use and exposure by people to tobacco, the frequency with which people eat fruits and vegetables, occurrences of cancer and high blood pressure and the prevalence of diabetes.

“In Oman, non-communicable diseases are responsible for about 70 per cent of the total deaths in the Sultanate, and in response to the growing burden of NCDs, the government of the Sultanate has adopted a multi-sectoral national action plan to prevent and combat NCDs,” said Dr Ahmed Mohammed Al Saidi, Minister of Health.

“The results of this survey are a new addition to the evidence base established by the routine information systems and recent national surveys to guide and coordinate the response and implementation of the National Plan of Action through the health and non-health sectors.”

“The survey also aims to develop a national database on nutritional patterns and the extraction of national indicators and make informed decisions based on evidence and proof,” he added. “We will develop a strong monitoring, follow-up and evaluation framework to determine the extent to which policies and interventions are implemented and consistent with the WHO framework.”

One of the key stats to come out of the survey was that 15.8 per cent of men in Oman used tobacco products, thereby causing significant harm to their health.

In addition, while only 6.3 per cent of Omanis smoked, the number was far higher among non-Omanis, of whom 14.2 per cent admitted to using them. Only 0.5 per cent of women in the survey said they used tobacco products.

Some 33 per cent of people who smoke in Oman have also been advised by their doctors to quit smoking due to the adverse health effects it could have. About two-fifths of the population (39.6 per cent) either lacked physical activity or didn’t exercise enough, while only 33.3 per cent of people suffering from high blood pressure took medication.

Al Saidi added, “The implementation of the National Health Survey of noncommunicable diseases and their risk factors, which establishes a database that is a reference for all concerned and specialists, is primarily aimed at building a healthy society that is aware that health is the responsibility of each of its members before it is the responsibility of the stakeholders.

In terms of nutrition, the survey also revealed that three-fifths of the population (60.7 per cent) didn’t eat enough fruit and vegetables, while nearly the entire population also has almost twice the dietary salt intake of five grams a day, with the average consumption at around 8.55 grams a day. Some 35.5 per cent of the population was found to have raised blood cholesterol, on the basis of the sample survey.

In this context, Dr Adhra bint Hilal Al Mawali, the Director of the Studies and Research Centre at the Ministry of Health, said, “The national non-communicable disease surveillance survey is a simple and standard method for collecting, analysing and disseminating data, as protocols and standard questions allow countries to use national survey data not only to regularly monitor the direction of indicators at the national level, and even to compare them at the regional and international levels. This survey data is a key indicator used to control and prevent NCDs globally.”

“The MoH is launching today the most up-to-date and comprehensive data on the status of the NCDs risk factors in the Sultanate,” added Dr Akjemal Magtymova, Oman’s WHO representative to the country.

“The step-wise approach to Surveillance (STEPS) is a simple, standardised method for collecting, analysing and disseminating data. The STEPS information relates to key factors, used globally, to prevent and control the burden of NCDs.”

This is the latest survey from the Ministry of Health designed to improve the welfare of the population, having previously launched several surveys, including the survey of the health of child in 1990, the survey of the health of the Omani family in 1995 and the National Health Survey in 2000, as well as an additional health survey in 2008.

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