Posted on February 14, 2011

A new anti-smoking clinic has opened in Doha, offering smokers the medical, social and psychological support they need to kick the habit for good.

The clinic – located in Al Gharaffa Health Center – is part Primary Health Care’s larger plan to reduce the burden of smoking-related diseases in Qatar through preventative medicine.

“The leading cause of death in this country is cardiovascular diseases, followed by stroke and cancer,” said Dr. Mohamed Ghaith Al Kuwari, consultant in preventative medicine and a leading physician involved in the project.

“If you analyze why, the major contributor is smoking. We need to reduce the burden of smoking in our community, and reduce the unneeded mortality or even chronic diseases that really limit people’s lives.”

The clinic officially opened on February 9. Already it is planning to increase its capacity to accommodate the flood of patients.

“The response is good, because it’s fully booked for the next three weeks,” said Dr. Al Kuwari. “We are going to have to increase the day sessions by next month if we continue to see the flow of patients at this consistency.”

If successful, the service could become available in other health centers.

“It’s part of a broad project to expand this preventative service to all of our primary care centers,” said Dr. Al Kuwari.

“We started with the Gharaffa center because it has the capability to introduce this service by the ability of the clinic and there is no extra burden to the center. That’s why we started with the first phase with one health center, then we will expand in the future.”

The clinic welcomes all smokers, regardless of their health condition and whether or not they have a referral from a doctor.

“When the patient comes, we take all the history information related to his medical status,” said Dr. Al Kuwari. “After that, we take a measurement of the carbon monoxide to assess the patient’s CO level.”

The inhalation of carbon monoxide can reduce the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen, making the heart work that much harder to complete a physical task. Dr. Al Kuwari said smokers often carry higher levels of the poisonous gas in their lungs.

After measuring the CO level, staff at the clinic will then help the patient set a quit date, and prescribe the necessary medication to help fight symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.  Approved medications include Zyban, Champex and the nicotine patch.

On top of medical help, the clinic also provides psychological and social support. Dr. Al Kuwari said he often encourages his patients to seek the help of family and friends.

“We are even encouraging people to come in groups to overcome this problem because we feel that if they are coming together to quit this together, taking all the medications required, they can support each other and we can help them create the social support within their environment, which is outside the clinic.”

The anti-smoking clinic is opened on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It is opened to all residents and citizens who carry a Hamad Medical Corporation health card. Al Gharaffa Health Center is located at the roundabout behind Al Gharaffa Stadium and Woqod petrol station.

To book an appointment, call +974 44174411 or e-mail [email protected].

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