Arogya World Launches Healthy Workplace Program in India

Posted on: November 6th, 2012 by Arogya World

New Healthy Workplace Criteria developed in partnership with PHFI, designed to prevent Non-Communicable Diseases and boost productivity

New Delhi, 6 November 2012: In a pioneering public health effort, Arogya World, a US-based non-profitorganization with a domestic presence in Bangalore, today unveiled new Healthy Workplace Criteriaas the first step of its Healthy Workplace program. Jointly developed by Arogya World and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), after intense deliberations and prior multi-stakeholder consultationswith the IT sector, allied organizations and medical experts at a Bangalore workshop organized byArogya World in February 2012 – these criteria will promote workplace wellness, help reduce theburden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), and offer companies a competitive edge via increasedtalent retention and higher productivity. The Healthy Workplace Criteria were launched today to marktwo important milestones this month: the World Economic Forum Summit on India (6-8 November2012), which has NCDs on its agenda, and World Diabetes Day (14 November).

Workplaces offer an incredible platform for NCD prevention and are a key focus area in India for ArogyaWorld. Speaking at the launch, Dr Geeta Bharadwaj – Head, Healthy Workplace Initiative, ArogyaWorld, India said: “As chronic disease and stress levels soar and attrition rates rise, it’s imperative thatcompanies shift from illness containment to wellness promotion. Such a paradigm shift would boostpositive work outcomes, improve organizational excellence and promote employee retention.”

At the launch event, besides highlighting the Healthy Workplace Criteria, key stakeholders deliberatedon ‘The ROI from a Healthy Workplace’, at a high-profile interactive session moderated by Mr AshokMalik. The panelists included Dr Sailesh Mohan – Senior Research Scientist, PHFI; Mr Avinash Vashistha– Chairman, Accenture; Dr Balaji S Lakshmipuram – Occupational Physician, IBM; Mr Ravi Mani – SeniorVP, Organizational Excellence, iGate; Dr Nalini Saligram, Founder & CEO, Arogya World, and Chief GuestMr Keshav Desiraju – Special Secretary, Health, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Also presentwere representatives from organizations such as TiE, World Economic Forum, WHO, Cisco, Aetna and others.

Speaking at the launch event, Mr Keshav Desiraju – Special Secretary, Health, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare affirmed: “India is committed to reducing the burden of NCDs, which cause 50% of alldeaths in our country. As people spend half their waking hours at work, it is important to increase healthconsciousness at the workplace. I am pleased that workplaces are being used in innovative ‘whole ofsociety’ approaches to combat NCDs.”

Conveying his support for the Healthy Workplace initiative, Prof. K Srinath Reddy – President, PublicHealth Foundation of India said: “India is hard hit by NCDs, with around 20% people harbouring at leastone chronic disease and 10% having more than one. Against this backdrop, workplace wellness effortslike this one, if scaled up, could play a crucial role in effecting a positive public health outcome.”

Workplace wellness programs not only help attract and retain talent, but ensure good returns oninvestment (ROI), particularly important in the wake of the global economic slowdown. “NCDs are oneof the greatest health and development challenges of the century. While it is expected that NCDs willbe responsible for an accumulative global output loss of US$ 47 trillion in the next 30 years, there is astrong business case for the effectiveness of workplace programmes, including a return on investmentof $3-4 for every $1 spent”, said Dr Eva Jane-Llopis, Head – Health Programmes from The World Economic Forum.

As ageing and NCDs – mainly diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), cancer and chronic diseases –increasingly afflict workforces, preserving employee health and promoting productivity increases isimperative. In India, NCDs increasingly cause higher death and disease rates, and a WHO report saysCVDs would be the major cause of death and disability in the country by 2020. Diabetes is anotherdangerous disease affecting people all across the nation, with 61.3 million presently afflicted. Ifuntreated, diabetes can lead to CVDs, blindness, amputations and kidney failure. Yet another deadlydisease across urban and rural India is hypertension – the most prevalent chronic disease, with around33% Indians afflicted with hypertension.

In this scenario, workplace wellness initiatives could play a crucial preventive role by boostingawareness about risk factors such as high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, tobacco use and excessivealcohol intake, physical inactivity, and obesity. To promote this important preventive platform, ArogyaWorld’s Healthy Workplace Criteria will institutionalize awards at three levels: Bronze, Silver, and GoldLevel – check attachment. To qualify, companies must meet 80% of the criteria for the specific level thatinclude: Ban on Tobacco Use, Healthy Eating, Physical Activity, and Work Life Balance, amongst others.

Today industry confronts complex human capital challenges, while the nation faces a huge NCD burden.Arogya World’s Healthy Workplace program helps meet both challenges. The program will recognizecompanies that meet the Healthy Workplace Criteria with Bronze, Silver or Gold Awards to mobilize theworkplace community around healthy living. It will also promote the Healthy Workplaces to industryand media to advance the dialogue on workplace wellness in the country. As part of this program,16-week lifestyle coach-led diabetes prevention sessions in Healthy Workplaces and integration withmHealth programs, such as Arogya World’s mDiabetes, are also planned. The initial focus for the HealthyWorkplace program will be the IT/software industry.
Significantly, the WHO emphasizes that approximately 80% of heart disease and diabetes and 40% ofcancers can be prevented through healthy lifestyles such as avoiding tobacco use, eating healthy foodsand increasing daily physical activity. This is at the core of all of Arogya World’s work.

About Arogya World

A US-based non-profit entity with a Trust in Bangalore, Arogya World is committed to change the courseof chronic disease, one community at a time. Arogya means ‘good health’ in Sanskrit and denotes livinglife without disease. The organization believes deeply in prevention. As diabetes reaches catastrophiclevels in India, Arogya World has highlighted this urgent health crisis, and is implementing programs fordiabetes prevention through lifestyle changes in schools, workplaces and the community. mDiabetes isits flagship one million person diabetes prevention mHealth program in India, an ongoing Clinton GlobalInitiative commitment. Further details at: