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Our Global Voices Posts

Community-based Surveys are Informing Local Cessation Smoking Campaigns for Indigenous Australians

Posted on by Alyson Wright, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University
Project leader Alyson Wright surveys a community member in Central Australia.
Project leader Alyson Wright surveys a community member in Central Australia.

Australia is a global leader in tobacco control, with a continuous comprehensive strategy initiated in the late 1980s that includes advertising restrictions, price increases, plain packaging, and mass media campaigns. However, after three decades, limited progress has occurred with regard to smoking prevalence among Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population. Cigarette smoking prevalence among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian adults aged 18 years or older is estimated at 46%, as compared with 16% among adults in the non-Indigenous population.

Being a Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) resident has given me the opportunity to see first-hand the challenges that remote communities can face in reducing tobacco use in Australia. Recognition of the substantial health benefits generated from reducing tobacco use has led to the development of tobacco control programs focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. For example, in 2016, the Australian Government invested in the Tackling Indigenous Smoking program. Additionally, the Australian Government has funded the delivery of local tobacco campaigns implemented by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

Cigarette smoking prevalence is estimated at 46% among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australian adults aged18 years or older compared with 16% among adults in non-Indigenous population

To date, little research has been done to evaluate the effectiveness of community-based tobacco prevention programs among Aboriginal population in Australia. To help fill this gap, our research team at the Australian National University developed a project that aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a local tobacco campaign by undertaking a community-based survey in Australia’s Aboriginal population. We worked closely with the local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service in creating the survey questions, implementing the surveys in the communities, and analyzing the results. We received a grant from the Global Fund for Disease Prevention/TEPHINET, which stands for Training Programs in Epidemiology and Public Health Interventions Network, to implement the project. We undertook a pre- and post-study with current and former smokers to assess changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors over time. This project was undertaken between December 2016 and July 2017; a total of 156 participated in the baseline survey, and 60% of these participants also completed the follow-up survey.

The results of these surveys show important changes over time. At follow-up, the percentage of people who had knowledge of smoking risks increased from 47% to 62%, and the percentage with knowledge of quit lines increased from 70% to 92%. Additionally, among the 71 current smokers who completed the baseline survey, nearly 20% quit at follow-up.

Using a community-based survey approach has helped to build capacity and inform service delivery at the local level, while also providing advice to national decision makers related to community tobacco prevention programs.

Jon Veverbrants surveys a community member in Central Australia.
Jon Veverbrants surveys a community member in Central Australia.

I am proud of the work we did to help prevent and reduce tobacco use among indigenous Australians. The results from our work are being used to inform tobacco control efforts among this population in Australia, including clinical approaches to smoking cessation and the development of a local campaign in Central Australia. Specific efforts that are underway included:

  1. Revising the local campaign messages and focusing on health benefits of quitting, chemicals in cigarettes, and benefits of quitting for family and children.
  2. Increasing reach of health promotion in neighboring communities.
  3. Reviewing clinical approaches to smoking cessation.

The estimated number of people who could benefit from these improved services and campaign delivery includes approximately 7,500 clients in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, and a Central Australian indigenous population of approximately 24,000. Ongoing efforts to deliver population health initiatives, more widely distributed health promotion messages, increase the number of smoke-free environments, and provide greater access to quit services in Central Australia could contribute to critical reductions in overall tobacco use rates, especially in Australia’s Aboriginal population.

Posted on by Alyson Wright, National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National UniversityLeave a comment

How Senegal is tracking the Silent Killer

How Senegal is tracking the Silent Killer At a packed clinic in the middle of Dakar, Senegal, a busy nurse secures a blood pressure cuff around a patient’s arm. “After I take the blood pressure, I record it here,” the nurse says enthusiastically, showing a patient treatment card to Dr. Monica LaBelle, a CDC Foundation Read More >

Posted on by Bethany Hall, MPHLeave a comment

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative History Project: Documenting the Eradication of Polio

L to R: Oral Historian Hana Crawford, Project Manager Mary Hilpertshauser, Archivist Laura Frizzell

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) is a partnership led by five organizations: the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of GPEI is to eradicate polio worldwide. Based at the David Read More >

Posted on by Oral Historian Hana Crawford, Project Manager Mary Hilpertshauser, Archivist Laura FrizzellLeave a commentTags , , , ,

Tetanus: Eliminating the Forgotten, Deadly Disease

FETP Resident Pheobe Hilda Alitubeera searching for tetanus cases in health facility registers.

As a clinician, seeing a patient with a preventable disease like tetanus is heartbreaking. The most common signs are painful spasms of the muscles of the jaw (lockjaw) and spine. But, in the worst cases, tetanus impairs breathing, and without medical intervention, nearly 100% of patients die. Tetanus rarely occurs in the U.S. because we’ve Read More >

Posted on by Dr. Rebecca Casey, EIS Officer, Global Immunization DivisionLeave a commentTags , , , ,

Preventing Cervical Cancer in Cambodia: Evaluating the HPV Vaccination Demonstration Project

A nine-year old girl and her grandmother being interviewed in Svay Rieng province about her knowledge on HPV vaccine

Cervical cancer claims the lives of a quarter of a million women every year with almost nine out of ten deaths occurring in developing countries.   Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that can cause cancers in the mouth, throat, and reproductive tract, as well as genital warts. Safe and effective vaccines Read More >

Posted on by Julie Garon, MPH - Vaccine Introduction Team, GIDLeave a commentTags , , ,

Proud to Protect Burkinabè from Meningitis

A child lines up to get her routine MACV vaccination in Burkina Faso in 2017. © Evelyn Hockstein/CDC Foundation

Isaïe Medah, MD, MSc, is a physician and director general of public health in Burkina Faso. Previously he was director of the country’s routine immunization program from 2015–2017 and director of disease control from 2011–2015. Proud to Protect Burkinabè from Meningitis By Isaïe Medah, MD, MSc In a remote village of Burkina Faso, a woman Read More >

Posted on by By Isaïe Medah, MD, MScLeave a commentTags , , , , ,

Message from Hank Tomlinson, PhD, Acting Director of CDC’s Division of Global HIV & TB.

CDC's innovative efforts to find, cure, and prevent TB are creating a safer America and a safer world.

“We are at a key moment in the global fight against tuberculosis. Tremendous progress has been made and, yet, this preventable, curable infection still claims more lives than any other infectious disease or epidemic. As leaders come together on World TB Day and again at the United Nations High Level Meeting on TB in September, Read More >

Posted on by Dr. Hank TomlinsonLeave a comment

Global Health Security Agenda Programs Protect Americans from Infectious Disease Threats

Today’s world of increasing interconnectivity and mobility accelerates the shared global risk to human health and well-being. The United States cannot effectively protect the health of its citizens without addressing infectious disease threats around the world. A pathogen that begins in a remote town can reach major cities on all six continents in 36 hours[1]. Read More >

Posted on by Anne Schuchat, MD (RADM, USPHS)Leave a comment

World Birth Defects Day 2018 Raises Global Awareness of Birth Defects

Every year, millions of babies around the world are born with a serious birth defect. In many countries, birth defects are one of the leading causes of death in babies and young children. Babies who survive and live with these conditions are at an increased risk for long-term disabilities and other health problems. The fourth Read More >

Posted on by Margaret A. Honein, Ph.D, M.P.H., Acting Director, Division of Congenital and Developmental Disorders, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental DisabilitiesLeave a commentTags ,

Continuing the Fight Against Zika

Zika virus continues to spread in many countries and territories around the globe. Because there is no vaccine or medicine for Zika, the virus and its associated health outcomes will remain a significant and enduring public health challenge. The Danger from Zika Although many people infected with Zika experience mild or no symptoms, infection during Read More >

Posted on by Olga L. Henao, MPH, PhD, Epidemiologist2 CommentsTags , , , ,