August 2019, Muscat: the Sultanate of Oman is leading the battle against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like heart and lung diseases, cancer and diabetes.
There are efforts targeting to implement practical procedures, such as smoke-free souks and low-salt bread campaigns against NCDs in Oman.
These plans are guided by the Nizwa Healthy Lifestyle Project (NHLP), which is one of Oman’s oldest community-based health promotion projects founded in 1999. Many members of society, including the Public Authority for Consumer protection, municipal authorities and other various businesses entities have joined forces to reduce risks that cause NCDs and, in turn, improve health.
Commenting on this health campaign, Dr Zahir Al Anqoudi, head of the NCDs section at Oman’s Ministry of Health, and a member of the Oman Anti-Tobacco Society said, “All going well, we will set a goal to disseminate these initiatives and put in place more examples all over Oman.”
Earlier this year, the Nizwa project launched two new innovative health promotion activities: the ‘Tobacco-free souk’ in Muscat’s open-air traditional market, and the Healthy Restaurants Initiative.
Oman is one of several countries selected by the World Health Organization (WHO) to receive integrated support to fast-track progress on achieving nine global targets to prevent and control NCDs, including reducing premature death from NCDs by 25% by 2025, and the NCD-related targets in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
WHO’s support has been key in Oman’s progress in reducing salt consumption, regulating alcohol sales and marketing and promoting physical activity.
The organization also helped to lay foundations for the five strategic priorities for NCD prevention and control that Oman is working towards, which are: tobacco control, healthy diet, physical activity, healthy territories, and integration of NCDs into primary health care.
Uniting people and leaders from different sectors behind a common goal to intensify action to improve the health of everyday Omanis has also been part of WHO’s work.
Such collaboration has resulted in significant reductions of salt consumption. Reducing salt content in food was a measure supported by many local food producers, particularly Oman’s main bakeries, who supply 90% of all bread products. As a result, the Omani government is now committed to additional legislation to regulate fats and sugars.
In Oman, popular community centers are often places of worship, restaurants, or markets. Recognizing this, Oman’s Ministry of Health is focusing on such areas to tackle two big NCD risk factors: diet and tobacco.
In Nizwa, establishing a tobacco-free souk was the next big step in tobacco control following its indoor smoking ban issued in 2010.
A survey conducted by local volunteers in 2016 found near unanimous support for the smoking ban by community members, business owners, local visitors and international tourists alike.
For more details , please visit the WHO page: