By Martha Mwase and Chimwemwe Ngoma
The 21st century has witnessed technological advancement that has helped humans to make strides our ancestors could only dream of. In this era of technological progression, mobile application revolution is widely employed to achieve better health outcomes.
A UK based entity, the Smoke Free (23 limited) in its efforts to help people who are struggling with the habit of smoking living in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC’s) so that they should quit smoking, has gifted a free version of a mobile application called the ‘Smoke Free’ to smokers in Malawi. The application has over 5 million downloads on Play Store.
The Smoke Free app makes it easy to collect and monitor health information on one’s quit journey. The user can track his or her health progress and monitor daily improvements in pulse rate, oxygen levels, tooth staining, immunity and lung function among other things. Inside the app, there is also a feature that shows the money that can be saved in the quit journey which can be save up for something else using the same app.
In her words, one of the pioneers of the initiative, Louise Ross said that the project will help to reach out to smokers in LMIC’s. “It is wonderful to see this offer to smokers in Malawi, we hope the application will help them quit”, she said.
The tobacco harm reduction project in Malawi has been tasked to distribute access codes that can be redeemed on Play Store to interested individuals who would like to attempt quitting. Interested persons can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a WhatsApp text to 0992930950.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one billion people will have died from tobacco-related diseases by the end of this century. That is roughly equivalent to 13 per cent of the current global population. Further to that, the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR) report of 2018 highlights that more people die from smoking cigarettes than from malaria, HIV and tuberculosis combined.
Governments are spending significant amounts of currencies in trying to resolve the public health crisis and disease burden that is caused by smoking. Therefore, no effort should be spared in helping people quit smoking.