Portugal has its first EAT team in NOVA Medical School

EAT-Portugal members: Front row- Beatriz Folgado, Natacha Viana e Cláudia Oliveira; Back row- Inês Gaspar, Johanna Hietala, Dimey Roque e Sofia Albuquerque

EAT-Portugal members: Front row- Beatriz Folgado, Natacha Viana e Cláudia Oliveira; Back row- Inês Gaspar, Johanna Hietala, Dimey Roque e Sofia Albuquerque

Dimey, how did NOVA Medical School become involved with EAT?

Tiago Filipe, a final year student in our university, found out about EAT under the EAT-Brazil initiative to foster EAT implementation in other Portuguese-speaking countries and then we decided to give the project a start in Portugal.

We all think this is a very innovating project and see how extremely important it is to apply it to Portugal’s current reality, since smoking is such a big issue in our country. Last estimates show that almost a third of our male adult population smokes, a much higher average than in other European countries.

It has, then, become imperative that this project, which takes on early tobacco consumption in young people, be extended to the Portuguese population.

Beatriz, tell us more about the creation of the group.

We created our group at NMS (Nova Medical School) so we can intervene in smoking habits in our country and make a difference on the health of our population, as other EAT groups, but we have some peculiarities.

Since we are the first EAT group in Portugal and are still at the early stages of applying the project we had the need to add more elements to the typical 5 members’ group. That will allow us to get a quicker start and achieve better results.

Johanna, why is it important for medical students to be involved in smoking control strategies?

A medical student should care about public health policies and take advantage of the theoretical knowledge acquired throughout med school, applying it to the present situation we are living.

We should take our knowledge and use it for the common good, which is something we are able to do with EAT. We grow as people and as doctors with this project, all while interacting with young people and trying to get across a message that we hope will have a big health impact.

Inês, how do you think EAT can help in the fight against tobacco in Portugal?

Our EAT group is made up of young medical students who are ambitious, motivated, and well succeeded. Our ages are not very different from the ones of the youth we target in our interventions. They will see us as an example to follow and a voice to carefully listen to.

The different creative strategies we use will further more get their attention and we hope we can meet EAT’s goals and have as much success as the other existing EAT groups in other countries.

Claudia, what has already been done and what are the next steps for EAT-NOVA Medical School?

We have already created a list of schools to contact and started adapting the material to Portugal’s reality, having in mind matters such as our age target and the peculiarities of smoking habits here. We are planning to start our interventions on the schools later this year.

Each group member also received some tasks to focus on during our summer break. At the beginning of the next school year, we will contact our student’s union to get their support in these early phases of EAT-NMS.

Natacha, how do you think being a part of this project can improve your medical school experience?

Having an active role in bettering society is a fulfilling experience for anyone. This is particularly true for us as med students, as we will be dealing with society’s health issues while in med school as well as throughout our entire careers. The opportunity to be a part of EAT will help make my med school experience feel much more meaningful.

Sofia, do you believe EAT can have a beneficial impact on society?

This project helps take action against a major public health problem and most of all prevents further complications that come from it such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory diseases. Also, it has been proved that EAT strategies work on reducing the number of kids that start smoking and increase the number that quits this terrible habit. Taking all of this into consideration, I have no doubts that EAT brings many benefits for society as whole.

More information: https://educationtobacco.org/portugal-nova