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Wuhan, China, Seeks Help for Anti-Smoking Campaign

The Wuhan government and USC Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research (IPR) will begin one of the largest collaborations in preventive health across the Pacific Rim.
March 30, 1998

by Monika Guttman
Originally published on March 30, 1998 in USC Chronicle

When the government of Wuhan, China, was looking for a partner to help develop smoking prevention programs for schools in the region, it turned to the Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research (IPR) at USC.

As a result, the Wuhan government and IPR will begin one of the largest collaborations in preventive health across the Pacific Rim.

This month, a delegation of five scientists, physicians and researchers, including Li Yan, director of the Public Health and Anti-Epidemic Station in Wuhan, came to the Health Sciences Campus for two weeks to begin a collaborative study on smoking prevention in central China.

The project will address the biggest public health problem today in China, according to C. Anderson Johnson, director of the IPR. "It is estimated that 100 million Chinese men currently living will die from smoking-related illnesses," he said. "About 70 percent of Chinese men smoke, and the government is interested in finding ways to address the problem."

If successful, the methods established through the collaboration for smoking prevention could be used throughout China.

Wuhan, with 6.5 million people, is one of the largest cities in central China and the educational and economic hub of central China. Central China has been tapped by the Chinese government for future economic development; the Three Gorges dam project upriver from Wuhan on the Yangtze will bring electrical power for industrial development to the region.

During the two-week visit, members of the IPR met with the Wuhan officials to train them in smoking prevention protocols. "Together, we'll be developing some new measures that adapt to the culture and lifestyles found in Wuhan," Johnson said.

The IPR will also assess alcohol abuse, stress, diet and nutrition, physical activity, the environment and health programs as the region undergoes rapid economic development and social change, noted Johnson. "These changes bring a new wave of chronic diseases to China, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes," he said.

While at USC, members of the Chinese delegation met with Edward Avol, associate professor of research, occupational and environmental health, and John Peters, professor of occupational and environmental health, on assessing air quality and its effects on lung function. They also met with Mimi Yu, professor of preventive medicine, and Lisa Nicholson, instructor in preventive medicine, to develop ways of assessing dietary behavior.

The two weeks of planning and training will be followed by the visit of Tianren Fang, director of the Wuhan Public Health Bureau, to USC in April, and the visit of IPR researchers to Wuhan for pilot testing in May. Baseline measures for the longitudinal study are scheduled for October this year.