Global Bridges, a healthcare alliance for tobacco dependence treatment based at Mayo Clinic, and its regional partner, the Inter American Heart Foundation (IAHF) in Dallas, Texas, announced today the first of a series of training courses for health care providers in Latin America on how to successfully treat tobacco users.
The initial training, developed in collaboration with several regional and global expert groups and scheduled for April 28 as part of the National Congress of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery in Puebla, Mexico, will engage 50 clinicians. Gustavo Zabert, M.D., a pulmonologist, who is the regional director for Global Bridges, developed and will teach the eight-hour course along with international experts in treatment of tobacco dependence Carlos Jiménez Ruiz, M.D., Ph.D., of Spain and Raúl Sansores, M.D., of Mexico.
“Tobacco usage is difficult to measure in Latin America. But rates are at least as high as 42.1 percent for men in Chile, and 32.5 percent for women in Bolivia. By offering this training, we are making a step towards addressing the tobacco epidemic,” says Dr. Zabert, who also holds leadership positions in the Latin American Thoracic Society and the Latin American Coalition for Tobacco Dependence Treatment.
Global Bridges - a collaboration among Mayo Clinic’s School for Continuous Professional Development and Nicotine Dependence Center, the American Cancer Society and the University of Arizona -- was established in 2010 as a worldwide, science-based initiative to help health care providers unite to treat tobacco use and dependence while advocating for effective tobacco control policies. During its first year, Global Bridges has positively impacted 400,000 patients around the world through training over 5,400 health care providers in Mayo Clinic-led sessions on how to deliver culturally appropriate tobacco dependence treatment.
“Global Bridges adapts to regional needs and enhances access to proven treatment methods throughout each of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) regions,” says Richard Hurt, M.D., founder and director of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and principal investigator of Global Bridges. “The training that Dr. Zabert and his colleagues will lead is the first in a series of activities we are planning for Latin America with our regional partner.”
As a Global Bridges regional director, Dr. Zabert and his team will lead activities to grow the network and advance tobacco dependence treatment and tobacco control policies across the region. The Latin American region consists of 33 countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
The IAHF was formed in 1992 to promote an environment throughout the Americas that is conducive to the prevention of heart disease and stroke; to promote the growth and development of foundations that will take active roles in public and professional education, public advocacy and fundraising; and to foster partnerships among health professionals, business, industry and other sectors of society for the accomplishment of its mission and goals. The IAHF is a leading force in tobacco control research and advocacy throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
About half of these countries have government objectives regarding tobacco control, and three-quarters of them have an agency identified to pursue tobacco control. Only 26 of the 33 countries have ratified the WHO’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, and staffing and funding support for tobacco programs vary. Dr. Zabert and the IAHF will work to improve the availability of effective tobacco dependence treatment throughout the region.
Global Bridges receives funding and in-kind support from multiple sources, including Mayo Clinic, the American Cancer Society and an unrestricted grant from Pfizer Medical Education Group.