Arogya World’s first guest blogger, Jeffrey Meer, is the Special Advisor of Global Health Policy and Development at The Public Health Institute. He conducts PHI’s Washington-based advocacy on global health, and provides strategic direction for the organization’s participation in global health procurements by the United States Government and private donors. This year is an important… Read More
Co-authored by Nalini Saligram, founder and CEO of Arogya World, and Jill Sheffield, founder and President of Women Deliver, this op-ed was also published on The Huffington Post. There are times in the history of the world when the actions of people with foresight and wisdom have averted crises on a mass scale. We are… Read More
Arogya World has received funding from Merck for its Diabetes Awareness and Prevention Education program in India’s schools. This support will allow Arogya World to educate 11-14-year-old school children through teacher- and peer-led classroom activities about diabetes and its complications, as well as how this serious disease could be prevented through increased physical activity and healthy eating habits.
The program will be piloted in some of Delhi’s schools through a partnership between Arogya World and youth NGO HRIDAY-SHAN, adapting their successful school-based tobacco control model for diabetes education, using credible authority figures like teachers and peer-leaders to teach the benefits of healthy living to young children before their lifestyle habits are set. According to Arogya World founder Nalini Saligram, “Non-profit organizations like ours cannot do the work we want to do without the support of sponsors and partners. This is important work, at the core of our diabetes prevention offering in India, and we are so pleased we can begin implementation with support from Merck.”
Behavior change is one of the hardest challenges we face in chronic disease control. Study after study has shown that it is extremely difficult to entice people to increase their physical activity and eat a more healthy diet.
With this knowledge, Arogya World has assembled medical experts, behavior change experts, and consumer experts from around the world to form a new Behavior Change Task Force. Members of the Task Force will donate their time, knowledge and insights to help Arogya World create scientifically sound, practical strategies that will encourage people to make meaningful and lasting lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes. The Task Force will periodically meet to review materials and messages used by Arogya World in India, where the prevalence of chronic disease has skyrocketed.
Quite simply, this Task Force – and the combined knowledge and expertise of its individual members – is a powerful weapon in our arsenal in the global fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
Another Important Development in the Fight Against NCDs
Earlier this month, on World Cancer Day (February 4th), the World Health Organization (WHO) issued physical activity guidelines on how regular exercise can contribute to the prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These Global Recommendations on Physical Activity For Health are an exciting development, providing clear, actionable information on the type and amount of physical activity considered most beneficial for the promotion of good health and the prevention of chronic disease. The WHO guidelines add to the world’s preparation for the UN Summit on NCDs to be held on September 19th and 20th, 2011, giving policy makers tools and data they may rely upon as they build national policies, and giving advocacy groups much-needed information that they can use to get more attention to NCD prevention.
According to the report, “physical inactivity is associated with 3.2 million deaths per year, including 2.6 million in low and middle-income countries.”
The report states that, “at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week for people aged 18 and over can reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases, including breast and colon cancers, diabetes and heart disease.”
The World Bank released a report on February 9, 2011, on the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in South Asia. The reduction of poverty in the region means that people are living longer (with life expectancy currently at 64 years and rising), which is great news. But the lifestyle changes associated with better living and longer lives have created new challenges.
South Asian countries, the World Bank warns, are “facing a health crisis with rising rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which disproportionately affect poor families, with possible side effects of disability and premature death, and worsening poverty as people pay for medical treatment out of their own pockets.”
The last couple of weeks have been tremendous in moving forward the agenda for NCDs. We wanted to bring to your attention some of the highlights.
1) The WEF panel discussion with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and prominent leaders from the private sector and academia contributed greatly to raising the profile of NCDs on the world stage. Panelists recognized the serious threat of chronic diseases, and emphasized that collaboration and leadership at multiple levels (including the UN, government, the private sector and civil society) are needed to create lasting impact. The session was a real step forward in mobilizing the world in advance of the high-level UN meeting on NCDs to take place in September 2011.
2) Another key mobilizing talk was delivered on Feb 2nd in Washington, D.C., by Dr. Harvey Fineberg, President of the Institute of Medicine, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. His thoughtful remarks and responses to questions brought the chronic disease community closer together in its resolve to ensure the world addresses NCDs.
In Arogya World’s first op-ed, published on The Huffington Post, CEO Nalini Saligram writes:
“This week, more than 30 heads of state will join chief executives from the world’s largest global businesses and leaders of civil society, academia and the media at Davos for the 2011 World Economic Forum. They will work toward developing a global agenda and building solutions to some of the most pressing issues of our time. I am encouraged that this year Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), currently the cause of more than 60% of deaths in the world — of which 80% are in the developing world — are on the agenda. It is my fervent hope that the world leaders will come up with some sustainable solutions to the NCD crisis, which had been highlighted by a World Economic Forum report last year as one of the most severe threats to the economy.”
We are bringing you two examples of new groups that have formed to organize the global health community around the issue of NCDs in advance of the UN NCD Summit and beyond.
A major force is emerging in global health and development: the NCD Alliance. They are both organized and organizing through high level advocacy to get the upcoming UN high-level meeting and its Outcomes Document to be as effective as they can be. An important initiative is the Common Interest Group, established by the Alliance to mobilize the chronic disease community and NGOs.
Updated January 19, 2011: An important editorial, published in The Hindu, responds to The Lancet’s series on disease in India, noting that the country’s campaign against chronic diseases must move into high gear.
The much anticipated The Lancet series on health challenges in India, a series of papers on India’s path to universal health coverage, reveals the full extent of the opportunities and difficulties for health in India and points out that “a failing health system is perhaps India’s greatest predicament of all.” While the longstanding health challenges of infectious diseases and maternal and child mortality continue to prevail, in recent years, the incidence of chronic disease in India has skyrocketed – costing millions of lives and having an impact on the national economy that we’re just beginning to understand. And coupled with the “perilously low density of educated health workers across the country” the editors argue, the country’s health is indeed in crisis.
Three members of Arogya World’s Indo-US Scientific Steering Committee, Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, Dr. D. Prabhakaran and Dr. V. Mohan, have papers included in this important and impressive series.