Arogya World Launches New Diabetes Prevention mHealth Program in India with Nokia Life Tools

Posted on: September 20th, 2011 by Arogya World

Commitment Made at Clinton Global Initiative Aims to Reach One Million in Two Years

Supported by Emory, Synovate, Biocon, LifeScan and Aetna

2011 CGI Commitment MakerNew York, September 20, 2011.  Arogya World, a US based non-profit organization, announced today a major diabetes prevention mobile health (mHealth) commitment in India, during the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting. This initiative, being implemented in association with Nokia, aims to reach one million consumers in rural and urban India over two years, and will raise awareness about diabetes and its prevention through text messages in multiple languages. One of the first nationwide diabetes mHealth initiatives in a developing country, this effort is supported by a consortium of prominent organizations from multiple sectors in India and the US, including Emory University, Synovate, Biocon, LifeScan, Inc., and Aetna.

The commitment takes on a special significance at this time as world leaders gather this week at the United Nations to discuss how to address the global impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes.

India is a diabetes capital: 50 million Indians live with the disease and 1 million die from it every year. Fortunately, there is compelling clinical proof that diabetes is largely preventable – 80% of diabetes cases can be prevented, for example by avoiding tobacco, increasing physical activity, and improving diets.

“Tough challenges in global health can be best addressed through public-private partnerships – no one organization can do it alone,” said Nalini Saligram, Ph.D., founder of Arogya World. “Arogya World is committed to preventing diabetes through lifestyle changes in India, and is leveraging mHealth as a solution to the diabetes crisis. If found effective, our mHealth efforts in India could potentially serve as a benchmark for chronic disease prevention in developing countries, where diabetes and NCDs have the highest impact.”

In executing its commitment, Arogya World will provide free content for six months to both current and new Nokia customers in India who have Nokia Life Tools on their phones and subscribe to Nokia’s health channels. Messages will be delivered as text message alerts, twice a week, in 12 different languages commonly used in the country. Once the initial program is over, the consumers will have the opportunity to opt-in to receive the diabetes awareness and prevention messages at a nominal fee.

“Mobile phones are ushering in an information revolution in the daily lives of millions, especially in the emerging markets. We are very pleased to partner with Arogya World and the other industry partners to take mobile Health services to the next level. Delivering targeted diabetes prevention messages to a profiled audience using our Nokia Life Tools platform, in a sustained and continuous engagement will, we believe, encourage people to adopt a healthier lifestyle,” said Jawahar Kanjilal, Global Head, Nokia Life Tools.

All partners are making deep and significant contributions towards this commitment. Nokia is providing the innovative Nokia Life Tools platform, a broad reach to consumers throughout India, and is also subsidizing program costs and making available an elaborate translation and transmission infrastructure. Arogya World is developing the diabetes awareness and prevention messages with a strong emphasis on science and behavior change in partnership with Emory University, and is reviewing them for cultural relevancy and technical accuracy with members of its Behavior Change Task Force.

“Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through lifestyle changes that include weight loss and increasing physical activity. We believe the use of mobile messaging technology can be a powerful tool in promoting and supporting healthy choices,” said Dr. Linelle Blais from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health.

The program’s effectiveness in increasing the awareness of diabetes and improving the adoption of healthy lifestyles, known to prevent the disease, will be measured over the course of the two-year commitment, by working with Synovate, a market research firm.

“We believe this large-scale initiative and the comprehensive assessment of rural and urban consumer behavior being undertaken will provide much data on mHealth effectiveness in chronic disease prevention that is of interest to the public health world,” said Xavier Raj, head of SEDC, a division of Synovate.

“Arogya World is committed to creating innovative, cost-effective public health programs that improve health outcomes for people. Insights from our partners in academia and industry will help us optimize our execution, measure impact and evolve our program to the next level,” commented Raj Dave, a key advisor to Arogya World. Financial support for this program and measurement and evaluation insights will be provided by Arogya World’s corporate partners, Biocon, LifeScan, Inc., and Aetna.

Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon, said, “In order to bend the incidence curve of diabetes in India, innovative and far-reaching national programs will be a requirement.”

“Applications of mobile health messaging in other areas such as maternal/baby health have demonstrated that the technology has tremendous potential as a tool to empower individuals to better manage their health,” said Leona Brenner-Gati, MD, Medical Director, LifeScan, Inc. “We are eager to see if mobile health is found effective in diabetes prevention, screening, and management.”

Sandip Patel, head of Aetna International, said, “Prevention is the most important way to fight non-communicable diseases. Aetna is proud to put our expertise to work analyzing health data and managing diabetes risk as part of this effort. We believe this program will be instrumental in effecting sustainable, lasting social change.”

Arogya World is seeking additional support to fulfill its CGI commitment and to achieve its overall mission.

Background: Nokia Life Tools is designed to address information gaps so that consumers in emerging societies can be better informed and improve their livelihood, with targeted services for Healthcare, Agriculture, Entertainment and Education. Nokia Life Tools is currently live in India, China, Indonesia and Nigeria.

About Arogya World

Arogya World is a US based non-profit organization, committed to changing the course of chronic disease, one community at a time. Globally, the organization advocates for prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Women for a Healthy Future is the organization’s key global advocacy effort. Arogya World is also working on diabetes prevention through lifestyle changes in India, where school-based and mobile health programs are currently in progress. See

Arogya World’s approach is to leverage strong science, partnerships and breakthrough technology to make measurable public health impact. The organization’s Behavior Change Task Force is a key group made up of medical, scientific, health promotion, communications and consumer experts from India, US and the UK – Dr. Francine Kaufman, Dr. Linelle Blais, Andrea Falls, Dr. Ranjani Harish, Dr. Monika Arora, Sukanti Ghosh, Dr. Kanav Kahol and Zoe Hellman. For more information see –

Arogya World was invited to join the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in 2011. This initiative is the organization’s first commitment at CGI.

About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI Annual Meetings have brought together nearly 150 current and former heads of state, 18 Nobel Prize laureates, hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations, major philanthropists, directors of the most effective nongovernmental organizations, and prominent members of the media. These CGI members have made more than 2,000 commitments, which have already improved the lives of 300 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued in excess of $63 billion. The 2011 Annual Meeting will take place Sept. 20-22 in New York City.

This year, CGI also convened CGI America, a meeting focused on developing ideas for driving economic growth in the United States. The CGI community also includes CGI U, which hosts an annual meeting for undergraduate and graduate students, and CGI Lead, which engages a select group of young CGI members for leadership development and collective commitment-making. For more information, visit