Arogya World: Spreading our Vision for Arcadia

Posted on: August 2nd, 2012 by Arogya World

Recently, Arogya World held the first in a series of events to help spread the word about Arogya World, our advocacy work and our programs in India. It has been such a pleasure to meet so many of you who share our passion for creating a healthier world, and we look forward to making new friends in the coming months.

Reception in Atlanta

By Adithi Srinivasiah, Arogya World Volunteer

Arogya World hosted an event in the Atlanta, Georgia, home of Dr. Jayanthi Srinivasiah May 20th, 2012. There, we briefed supporters on our work to change the course of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through disease prevention.

Guests including physicians, healthcare personnel, volunteers interested in the cause, local entrepreneurs and friends gathered in the home of Dr. Srinivasiah, a well known cancer specialist and prominent Indian, who advocates tirelessly for breast cancer prevention.  Dr. J, as she is popularly known, said “prevention is better than cure, and that is the soul of Arogya World.”

CEO and Founder Nalini Saligram updated the group on Arogya World’s programs in India and across the world. So far, Arogya World has launched multiple diabetes education programs in India’s schools and workplaces. To develop a more integrated public health intervention, Arogya World has created mDiabetes, a Diabetes awareness mobile health module, with the help of multiple organizations.

The attendees were moved by the magnitude of the NCDs prevalence in the world, and it was a great educational experience for all who attended, as confirmed by Nikhil Patil, an MPH graduate, who said, “it was amazing to hear Nalini Saligram’s work about starting Arogya World, firsthand. Nalini and Arogya World’s multi-level approach to targeting NCDs from the individual to the policy level is not only an innovative but a very evidence-based route to reducing the prevalence of these diseases.”

As Reverend Betty Castellani recalls, “this meeting gave me a startling realization of the level of deprivation suffered by large communities of children in India. What we frivolously spend on an ordinary evening going out to dinner and a movie could actually change a child’s life forever in an Indian village.”

Dr. Kathryn Graves from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and a member of Arogya World’s Board, sums up: “Every little bit that we as individuals can contribute to prevention can make a difference. Let’s start to make this difference now!”

This event exposed this group to the prevalence of NCDs in the developing world, urging them to give back to the cause.  Arogya World thanks Dr. J and her family for opening up their home to Arogya World, and to the many new supporters and friends with whose help we will achieve our goal.

By Kelli Meyer, Arogya World Communications Intern

On Saturday, June 23rd, 2012, friends, supporters, and board members of Arogya World gathered at the Philadelphia Museum of Art to celebrate Arogya’s success and enjoy a private tour of the museum’s latest exhibition.

The morning began with an update from founder Nalini Saligram on Arogya World’s programs and a framework of Arogya’s plans to change the course of chronic disease, one community at a time.  She discussed the exciting results from the schools program in India, and the progress made in the Clinton Global Initiative mDiabetes commitment, where Arogya World, in partnership with Nokia, is reaching 1 million consumers with text messages on diabetes and its prevention in 12 languages in India.

Arogya World Board Member Pamela Yih noted that “thanks to the vision, larger than life passion and the tireless efforts of our founder, Nalini Saligram, in just two years we have put our organization on a firm footing. We are also immensely grateful to our generous corporate and individual supporters, enthusiastic and high caliber volunteers, advisors/consultants who have mostly donated their time and have all helped to make this important work possible. It is exciting to be part of the Arogya World journey.”

Nalini also stressed the importance of two encouraging trends from our schools and mDiabetes India programs. First, awareness of diabetes and the importance of healthy living are rising.  Second, the first signs of behavior change are becoming evident.  For example, school children reported that they consistently chose the healthier food option and reduced the consumption of junk foods like chips and soda, and cell phone consumers who received the first of our messages said they found them clear and useful and would be willing to share the messages.

“These early findings are very encouraging,” said Meryle J. Melnicoff, Ph.D., Arogya World Board Member.  “We are learning that local delivery of compelling health information can influence behavior and help achieve Arogya World’s goal of reducing the worldwide burden of NCDs.”

Attendees took a private tour of  Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia, a special exhibition at the Philadelphia  Museum of Art.  Led by Naina Saligram, an Arogya World Fellow who has spent the past 8 months working on the exhibition with curator Joe Rishel, Arogya World supporters learned how scholars like Virgil and celebrated artists like Cezanne, Matisse and Gauguin have interpreted the theme of Arcadia, the state of Paradise and bliss on earth. “While Arcadia is often of as lost in the past, our vision is that it can be part of our present and future,” she said.

Arogya World’s Vision for Arcadia, is that a world of Arogya, or health for all, is attainable and that is exactly our wish for the world.

Image credit: The Large Bathers, 1906, Paul Cézanne, French, 1839 – 1906, Oil on canvas, 82 7/8 x 98 3/4 inches, Philadelphia Museum of Art