India is currently faced with the dual burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), causing damaging effects to the health and development of the country. According to Global Burden of Diseases, NCDs, including cancer, heart disease, chronic lung disease and diabetes, pose huge health and economic burden in India and account for 6.4 million deaths every year. Hence the urgent need to augment efforts to prevent NCDs in all settings and across age groups, since most NCDs are related to living habits and unhealthy choices like tobacco consumption.
AXA in India is undertaking a project as part of it Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative with Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) on ‘Implementing a setting-based health promotion intervention for prevention and control of non-communicable diseases’. The project involves implementing innovative behaviour change interventions on NCD prevention and control in multiple settings including schools, colleges and workplaces- across all age groups.
Speaking about the initiative, Marie-Louise Elhabre, Chief Executive Officer, said, “AXA as an insurance brand is about protecting people over the long term. For us, corporate responsibility is an essential part of our vision as we strive to empower people to live better lives. We can do so by educating people about the risks that face them and help them change their behaviours to better manage their risks. We have adopted this approach of risk prevention to address the growing problem of NCDs in India.”
Nagarajan V, Head HR and Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer added, “India is facing huge economic burden in relation to NCDs and mental health conditions. As a responsible corporate, AXA is working on reducing the risk factors of NCDs with vulnerable populations around the regions where we operate – in Bengaluru and Pune cities. This effort is aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3 of ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages.”
The study is guided by a multi-disciplinary advisory committee including experts from WHO, academic institutions, NGOs and government representatives. The intervention includes the following components:
School-based intervention: To impart health promotion and prevention messages (life-skills based) for the prevention and control of behavioural risk factors contributing to NCDs (unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and tobacco use) and to adopt a model of Health Promoting Schools.
College-based intervention: To prevent uptake and promote quitting of tobacco and alcohol use among college students and to promote alcohol and tobacco-free colleges through participatory research and social marketing approach.
Worksite intervention: To promote tobacco cessation through proactive offers of tobacco cessation at workplaces with focus on promoting use of national tobacco quit line and m-cessation programme of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
Dr. Monika Arora, Director of the Health Promotion and Additional Professor at PHFI, said, “We are guided by new evidence that highlights the need to step up cessation efforts at workplaces and the need to prevent NCD risk factors at young age. With heart attacks occurring in early twenties and school children being at risk of Type 2 diabetes, in India, there is dire need to implement innovative solutions to promote behaviour change across all settings.”
Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President of the Public Health Foundation of India added, “NCDs have been viewed as a problem of adulthood, but children, adolescents and young people are at risk as well. With this partnership, we hope to adopt a comprehensive health promotion approach to promote healthy lifestyles among school children, college students and adults in workplaces and contribute towards reduction and prevention of NCD risk factors.”
About Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)
The Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) is a public private initiative that has collaboratively evolved through consultations with multiple constituencies including Indian and international academia, state and central governments, multi & bi-lateral agencies and civil society groups. PHFI is a response to redress the limited institutional capacity in India for strengthening training, research and policy development in the area of Public Health (www.phfi.org).