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Sahan Lungu
Sahan was working as a Business Consultant advising tobacco farmers about the potential of moving to alternative crops when he discovered the Programme through THR Scholarship Manager, Chimwemwe Ngoma. For his first project he teamed up with fellow Scholar, Blandina Nkhata (see below), to create a short documentary on smoking and tobacco harm reduction in Malawi.

The film examined the current awareness of safer nicotine products (SNP) among both smokers and health professionals, highlighting the need for more education for both groups. The documentary has been shown on two Malawian TV stations and Sahan has discussed tobacco harm reduction on a range of television programmes. He has also shared his work at conferences and met with Technical Directors from the Malawian Ministry of Health’s Non-Communicable Diseases team.

Inspired by his first project, Sahan progressed to the Enhanced Scholarship, where he is now testing the feasibility and acceptability of snus among women living in rural areas in Malawi who use smokeless tobacco. Snus is a widely used oral SNP in Scandinavia. Its popularity in Sweden is associated with that country having the lowest rate of smoking related mortality in Europe and half the average EU rate for smoking-related diseases. Sahan’s new project hopes to establish snus’s potential as an alternative to the more harmful smokeless tobacco products and he continues to be motivated by the impact he can have on Malawi’s smokers.

“Receiving these Scholarships has been life-changing for me. Not only have I been able to interact with people from a wide range of different backgrounds during my projects, I’ve also experienced first-hand how this work in tobacco harm reduction can make a huge positive difference to people’s lives.”