YEREVAN, Armenia – Every year, October 12 is celebrated as the ‘National No Tobacco Day’ in Armenia, aiming to increase public awareness of the health risks associated with tobacco use and to advocate for reducing tobacco consumption. This year, the Turpanjian School of Public Health (SPH) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) joined the National Tuberculosis Control Center (NTCC) to celebrate the date within the scope of the “Integrating evidence-based tobacco dependence control services into tuberculosis care” project, once again, placing emphasis on the dramatic dual burden of tobacco and tuberculosis (TB) in Armenia.
On the occasion of the ‘National No Tobacco Day 2018,’ Dr. Arusyak Harutyunyan, Senior Researcher at SPH’s Avedisian Onanian Center for Health Services Research and Development (CHSR), delivered a talk to a professional audience of TB healthcare providers and managers of the NTCC on the burden of tobacco use in Armenia, especially among TB patients. Her talk was on the CHSR project titled “Integrating evidence-based tobacco dependence control services into tuberculosis care.” Dr. Harutyunyan touched upon the goals and the purpose of the project, discussed the key findings and outcomes from the completed phases of the project and mapped out the next steps for the continuation and finalization of the project goals. Her presentation acquainted the audience to the existing administrative and system-related gaps that were synthesized under three major themes: 1) tobacco dependence treatment; 2) establishment of smoke-free environments; and 3) administrative support to joint TB and tobacco control actions.
Dr. Harutyunyan also presented the planned actions of AUA SPH in response to the shortcomings revealed by the project, such as implementation of tobacco dependence treatment training for TB physicians, capacity building for establishing smoke-free TB facilities in Armenia, and incorporation of tobacco control actions into TB control strategies. To further support NTCC’s daily tobacco control efforts, Dr. Harutyunyan conducted a demonstration of the device for measuring levels of carbon monoxide (CO), which can be used as a tool for increasing TB patients’ motivation to quit. She also provided informational materials, such as leaflets and brochures to assist physicians’ daily tobacco control activities and highlighted the SPH’s readiness to continuously assist the NTCC in its tobacco control efforts in Armenia.
Dr. Lusine Kocharyan, Director of the NTCC, expressed her commitment to and firm support of the joint TB and tobacco control activities in Armenia. Dr. Kocharyan emphasized that tobacco control efforts must be comprehensively incorporated into TB control services as it is TB healthcare providers’ immediate professional responsibility to recognize and treat tobacco dependence along with TB. The event was an exclusive opportunity for outlining the partnership between AUA SPH and NTCC and growing it to a higher level as both parties share strong commitment to a continuous collaboration for the sake of combating the tobacco epidemic among TB patients in Armenia.
The NTCC is the largest inpatient TB facility in Armenia, located in Abovian, Kotaik. It provides both TB diagnostic and treatment services and serves around 3,000 patients, annually. Moreover, the NTCC coordinates TB management processes in five inpatient TB departments and around 60 TB outpatient centers throughout Armenia.
The AUA Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian School of Public Health works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of public health professionals to be leaders in public health, health services research and evaluation, and health care delivery and management.