Saturday, October 18, 2008

The crusade against chronic diseases

Through our connections in the Boise office, we’ve recently got involved with a group called Active Community Wellness. Later this month, we’ll be conducting an N-of-8 session with key members to help develop a platform for the ACW group.

In benchmarking other health and wellness initiatives, I researched a program we learned about in Mumbia, India – the Help Your Body campaign. So, I wanted to share with you some highlights of its work. You can see the entire scope at

First, some background:

The world has been clamoring about the great Indian success story. The youngest entrant into the elite Trillion Dollar Economy club, India will become the youngest nation with an estimated 700 million people under the age of 35 years India in 2025. The distressing aspect however is the overall health scenario that is turning out to be the bane for this same young productive India. India is slowly and steadily acquiring the status of the global chronic disease capital.

By 2025, India will have the dubious distinction of having 70 million diabetics, 213 million hypertensives and 60 million arthritics. The cost of these including welfare losses is estimated to be Rs 15,01,200 crores by 2015. According to the WHO repot Preventing Chronic Diseases - A vital investment, 388,000,000 people will die in the next 10 years of a chronic disease. A significant proportion of this will be in India.

A combination of the “thrifty gene hypothesis” (i.e. our genetic predisposition towards obesity and diabetes) and frantic lifestyle has brought us on the brink of a healthcare catastrophe.

Effective sustainable interventions, and the knowledge to implement them, have been shown to work in many countries. If existing interventions are used together as part of a comprehensive integrated approach by the government, the private sector and the civil society, the goal of preventing chronic diseases can be achieved.

“helpyourbody” has taken up on to join hands with the government and the World Health Organization to curb the projected upward trend of chronic diseases by 2% per annum by using various communication and education mediums.

Next, here are some of its activities:

Under the aegis of “helpyourbody” - a nationwide program, they intend bridging the existing health divide by adopting a 3-pronged approach to roll out this initiative.

1. Awareness
2. Action
3. Sustain

Awareness: Together map awareness about chronic diseases
• Risk assessment & analysis of the Indian health perspective by key endorsers
• Patient Education literature with key measures
• Channels to take the crusade across 20 cities in India.
• Mass Media
• Website
• Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)
• Patient Education Programs

Action: Detection is the key to diagnose people at high risk
• Camps to reach out to people
• Crusader doctors to detect at least 10 high-risk patients in a month for further follow-up
• Educating through small steps for a healthy lifestyle
• Better Disease Management through:
• Special consultation & tests by specialists
• Detection camps conducted at Piramal Diagnostics

Sustain: Caring to reach out for better disease management

• Building communities across the nation with doctors, hospitals, retailers and chemists
• Conducting periodic local activities/events and camps
• Involving local NGOs to partner the same

What is the expected outcome?

The cumulative social and economic impact of these measures is bound to be immense. The incidence of chronic disease will significantly decrease, thus ensuring productive human capital, reducing disparities, minimizing economic loss by 2% every year and earning the nation Rs. 67,500 crores by 2015.

Moreover, it would help reduce disparities and save close to 1 million productive human lives. It would help propel the thriving Indian economy with an all-inclusive growth.

The sponsor of “helpyourbody” is The Piramal group

The Piramal Group understands the role of democratizing healthcare in building a global economy and reducing disparities. It says, “We consider ourselves fortunate that we can serve the community by reducing the burden of disease and have many initiatives to help us do that.” Piramal Healthcare Ltd. is a leading healthcare - pharmaceutical and diagnostics - company in the country. Piramal e-Swasthya attempts to make healthcare accessible to India’s rural communities using technology through a sustainable and scaleable service model.

We can learn a lot from the knowledge, the expertise, the reach and most importantly the deep desire of “helpyourbody” to reduce the threat of chronic diseases. I hope we can share this committment through the Active Community Wellness mission.

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