Tobacco use in any form- smoking or chewing gutkha- is one of the biggest and ignored public health challenges in India. Tobacco contains a highly addictive substance, nicotine, which propagates a vicious cycle of dependency. Thus it becomes difficult to quit tobacco products. Tobacco use leads to one of the highest burdens of oral cancers which considerably deplete the country and the individual of economic and social resources. Oral cancers are mostly due to individual behavior and can be easily prevented.
Although the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply, and Distribution) Act, 2003 aims to regulate both smoking and smokeless forms of tobacco, its implementation is weak.
Dr.Deepali and Dr.Navneet are qualified dental surgeons who have been passionate about preventive oral health. Instead of merely starting a dental clinic they realized that they should focus on the preventive aspects of oral health. This is how Orogos tobacco cessation centre, Lucknow started in 2010. It is the first dental clinic in Lucknow with Indian Dental Association (IDA) approved Tobacco Cessation Centre. They emphasize on preventive oral health, tobacco interventions, and community awareness and research.
We generally overlook the tobacco use of most people including our loved ones. We accept it as a habit, but we forget that it is a deadly habit dressed up in a beautiful marketing attire of the corporate tobacco companies. The corporates do everything to sell cigarettes to all segments of the society, to women by making it slender and bringing in flavours, to men by showcasing it in a masculine way. The companies ensure that the packaging is attractive. The wrath of tobacco cannot be underestimated. To put it into numbers, and gauge the mass level destruction they cause one can refer to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey report which states that there are over 160 million users of smokeless tobacco like tobacco-leaf, khaini, zarda, kiwam pan masala, gutka, and over 40 million are exclusive smokers, in India alone. It is not easy to put up a fight against the ‘Big Tobacco’.
There is an increasing need for foot soldiers like Navneet and Deepali to put up a fight at a ground level and make people of the harmful effects of tobacco. The duo regularly visit schools and colleges in and around Lucknow, and raise awareness against tobacco, elucidating its harmful effects. They have monthly awareness camps. The couple ensures to create a supporting quitting environment for tobacco users and provide systematic assistance. They further provide the right amalgamation of counseling and pharmacotherapy in order to achieve successful quitting without relapse.
Navneet was born and brought up in a small village of Muzaffarpur district. He had very modest beginnings, and his mother worked really hard as a village school teacher to make ends meet. From a young age, he dreamt of becoming a doctor. He managed to get into a merit seat for Bachelor of Dental surgery (BDS) at Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai. This is where he also met his future wife, Deepali. Through their course work and growing understanding of public health, they developed a mutual dream of working towards preventive oral health and providing quality oral healthcare to those in greatest need.
One can’t randomly delve into public health and preventive policies without studying the nuances. To work on his interests Navneet took up courses like PG diploma in Medical Law & Ethics from The National Law School of India University, Bangalore. Similarly, Deepali took up post graduation in Hospital and Healthcare Administration.
Navneet believes that a course in health & human rights course at TISS, Mumbai was the turning point in his life.
“It took me time to understand that treating alone won’t help to fully achieve the concept of health. Definitely one has to learn the concept of prevention from a community perspective,” says Navneet. This led him to pursue a post-graduation in public health from the University of Pune.
The issue of oral cancer has always concerned him gravely. Firstly, most of the cases are preventable through behavioral change communication. He was deeply affected when one of his close friends who used to chew gutkha, signed up for a dental check-up as he spotted strange patches in his mouth. Detailed examination confirmed oral cancer. At the early age of 23 years being diagnosed with oral cancer is painful. It led to facial deformity and huge financial burden on his family.
Apart from the oral cancer prevention activities, Navneet has been working nationally as well as internationally in various capacities in the field of public health with Indian Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and projects of DFID, Harvard School of Public Health, and Credibility Alliance etc. Furthermore, he has received numerous honors and awards – including MEASURE evaluation fellowship. While Deepali is one of the leading dental surgeons of Lucknow with specialized experience in cosmetic dentistry. She has also been an academician and lecturer at NIMS University, Jaipur.
Orogos is not only concerned with tobacco cessation but also involved in providing care to geriatric patients. Old age is a phase of life wherein people needs more dental care than any other point of life. Keeping this in view, they have tied up with HelpAge India to treat geriatric patients without profit.
So next time you see a tobacco user, remember to reiterate that tobacco causes cancers and cardiovascular diseases. If possible, tell them to consult an authentic tobacco cessation clinic. Do your bit in spreading awareness against tobacco use.
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