Assoc Prof Dr Amer Siddiq Amer Nordin Consultant Psychiatrist, University of Malaya
“Smoking cessation is something every doctor should know,” Assoc Prof Dr Amer Siddiq says as he sits down to share with HealthToday a little bit more about mQuit, a smoking cessation programme recently launched by the Ministry of Health in co-operation with University of Malaya, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Akademi Farmasi Malaysia, and Johnson and Johnson Sdn Bhd.
He sees parallels between his journey from medical student to smoking cessation specialist and the current mQuit programme. “My mentor was Professor Dr Mohamad Hussain Habil, who encouraged me to pursue my PhD in smoking cessation, and he felt that there was a need for more medical professionals to be better equipped to handle this matter,” he says. The Professor was the past Director of the University of Malaya Centre for Addiction Sciences, of which Dr Amer is currently the Chief Coordinator, and theirs is a relationship that thrives to this very day. “And it was during the course of that journey that I realized how many of my colleagues in health – doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists – were ill-equipped to help their patients stop smoking.” With that realization, came the epiphany that it was his calling to help train and assist his fellow medical colleagues in empowering their patients to quit the habit.
Hence, Dr Amer was one of the many experts called on to assist in making mQuit a reality. The University of Malaya, of which he is affiliated to, has contributed a curriculum called Smoking Cessation Organizing, Planning and Execution (SCOPE), which is one of the three training programmes used by mQuit to assist healthcare providers to have adequate training and competence to help patients quit smoking.
What is mQuit?
The mQuit programme is the first wide-scale programme of its kind, as it brings together both the public and private healthcare sector to devise an integrated quit-smoking plan.
Dr Amer says that the mQuit programme draws inspirations from successful programmes in other countries, such as the Stop Smoking Service by UK’s National Health Service.
“It’s a revolutionary change,” Dr Amer opines. “It provides impetus to our smoking cessation efforts by upgrading existing facilities and introducing new ideas and strategies.”
What mQuit Offers
You and your loved ones
- A network of mQuit Centres that you can attend to quit the addiction.
- The Centres will devise a healthcare professional-customized plan using the latest treatment methods (nicotine replacement therapy, medicines and behavioural therapy) and introduce smoking cessation aids that are five times more effective than using willpower alone.
- Follow-up sessions, support, and advice to help beat cravings.
- Establishment of a national quit line (coming soon).
- Online hub www.jomquit.com.my to provide cessation support and drive smokers to mQuit centres. Currently the website is in English, with the Bahasa Malaysia version coming soon.
- Training programmes to upgrade knowledge and ability to help patients quit smoking. Trained personnel can apply for accreditation that qualifies their medical establishment to be identified as an “mQuit Centre”. Official mQuit plaques would be provided.
- Provides a private-public partnership that facilitates more active participation of private clinics and hospitals in government-run smoking cessation campaigns and programmes.
- Develops and provides a set of clinical guidelines that will be continuously updated. Dr Amer says that the guidelines are already in the final stage of development, to be released later this year.
How effective will mQuit be?
The mQuit smoking cessation programme revolves around evidence-based treatments that have been scientifically proven to be effective. It will also encourage more treatment options to be introduced into Malaysia, which will benefit Malaysian smokers as a whole.
Currently, the key challenge is to equip the relevant healthcare professionals in this country – family medical specialists, general practitioners, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, etc – with the knowledge and tools to devise effective stop smoking strategies for their patients. This can be a daunting task, but the mQuit team is up for the challenge.
Much effort is being spent on promoting awareness of the programme. Dr Amer explains that the experts involved, such as himself, contribute to the cause by shining the spotlight on mQuit during local conferences such as the recent Malaysian Congress for Psychological Medicine.
He further elaborates that his group has been working closely with other partners in the healthcare arena. They have trained over 1,600 healthcare providers so far, and these healthcare providers are, in turn, drumming awareness into their own colleagues.
“This is a nationwide programme,” he adds, “and already we have conducted four trainings in Sarawak and another two in Sabah. In the Peninsula, training would move from the central region to the North and East Coast later this year.”
He reiterates that mQuit is a long-term programme. It has set some goals for itself:
- Reduce the prevalence of smoking by 15% by 2025.
- Reduce this prevalence to less than 5% by 2045.
So, is today the day to change your life?
- If you are a smoker who wish to quit, visit www.jomquit.com.my to be inspired and to locate the nearest mQuit centre, to begin the journey to a smoke-free new you.
- If you are a healthcare professional that have recently undergone smoking cessation training under the SCOPE/CSCSP/KKM/overseas certified programme, the Ministry of Health currently allows for fast-track application for accreditation of the mQuit services.