Arogya World Fellow Mallika Rao interviewed Erin Justen.
As a public health professional, Erin Justen has a passion for making the world a healthier place. She joined the Arogya World team last year as a Development Consultant, and has enjoyed her experience thus far. Here is her story:
Tell me about your role in Arogya World and how you got involved.
I found out about Arogya through one of the board members. I am helping with development for the organization, which includes writing grants and fundraising. Recently, we received a grant from Lions Club International and Lions Club Bangalore to scale our mDiabetes project in Bangalore — reaching 200,000 with our messages this year. This grant helps us as we move toward our goal on improving the health of one million by 2020.
How has your experience shaped your understanding of NCDs?
My background is in public health and understanding the global perspective on prevention of disease through community projects. I previously worked at the CDC Foundation on projects covering many diseases and conditions, both domestically and globally. Many of the projects were population-level health education campaigns. My interest has always been in promoting healthy lifestyles to reduce risks for chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
I liked the idea of working with Arogya World because it aligns with the way I am trying to teach my young children (2-year-old twins and a 5-year old) to be healthy through exercise and good nutrition. And teaching children before their lifestyle habits are set, like the Healthy Schools program, can help prevent many NCDs.
How has Arogya World changed the conversation on NCD prevention?
It’s building a case for changing behaviors, which is an important piece of the puzzle. You can change the laws and improve the communities through other strategies and behavior change. Reaching people through technology is a good place to start.