WHO launches Arabic Florence digital health aid to quit tobacco

[02-11-2021 12:22 PM]

Ammon News - The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday launched the Arabic version of Florence, a 24/7 digital health worker to help more people quit tobacco in the Eastern Mediterranean Region and beyond.

With over 90 million smokers in the Region at present, the number of smokers is projected to increase every year, based on current trends, WHO's regional office said in a statement. Out of all tobacco users in the Region, half of the long-term users are expected to die from tobacco-related disease. The high prevalence of tobacco use and its consequent burden of disease in the EMR makes it imperative to continue scaling up tobacco cessation efforts, the statement added.

The organization said that quitting smoking is one of the most important actions people who smoke can take to reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease and smoking related cancer. Regardless of age or the period of smoking, smokers will benefit immediately from quitting any sort of smoking.

Within 20 minutes of quitting, heart rate and blood pressure will drop, in 2 -12 weeks a smoker's circulation improves and lung function increases in 1 year your risk of coronary heart diseases is about half of that of a smoker. In 5 years the stroke risk is reduced to that of a non–smoker and in 10 years the risk of lung cancer falls to about half to that of a smoker.

Addressing smokers, the statement said: "After a short conversation with you via video, audio or text, Florence can help you build your confidence to quit smoking, make a plan, and recommend toll-free quit lines or apps. Florence was developed in partnership with many international partner. Don’t worry, Florence does not collect or store any of your data because she respects your privacy."

The organization stated that quitting smoking is more important than ever, as smokers are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 compared to non-smokers. It is also more important than ever in the Eastern Mediterranean Region because smoking rates are high, especially among men where in some countries prevalence can reach more than (60%), and young people – where they can reach in some countries of the region up to 42% in boys and 31% in girls.

"We know from our data that many of you want to quit but lack the necessary support to do so. Speak to Florence to quit tobacco today. Tell your friends, family and co-workers about her. Florence also speaks English, French, and other languages," the organization added.

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