India is currently faced with the triple burden of communicable, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries. According to the World Health Organization, NCDs in India have huge negative implications on the health and development of the nation. Lifestyle choices are largely responsible for this growing cause of concern. Malnutrition in all its forms (obesity, undernutrition and dietary risks) attribute to poor health. As recently published in The Lancet – obesity and undernutrition are a part of a trilogy to form the ‘Global Syndemic’ that affects everyone across various regions and countries worldwide. As per various recommendations made by global reports such as Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents (AA-HA!), risk factors such as tobacco use, physical inactivity and alcohol use require equal attention and it is crucial that interventions that cover all age groups are delivered with quality and universal coverage.
Project PaTHWay: Promoting Health and Wellbeing
Karnataka is one of the highest NCD burden states in India, contributes to 68.4% (535.1 deaths per 1 lakh population) of total NCDs attributed deaths in the country. The Government of Karnataka is keen to address the risk factors responsible for non-communicable diseases and has taken the initiative to promote healthier lifestyle which would also pave the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Directorate of Health and Family Welfare Services, Government of Karnataka joined hands with the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) for implementing Project PaTHWay: PromoTing Health and Wellbeing in Bengaluru (Karnataka). Karnataka is one of the first Indian states to adopt a comprehensive NCD prevention programme through health promotion interventions in schools, colleges and workplaces.
Speaking about this partnership at the launch event Dr. T. S. Prabhakar – Director, Health and Family Welfare Services, Government of Karnataka, said tobacco consumption is one of leading cause of death globally. As per WHO Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2016-17, 22.8% of adult population are consuming tobacco in Karnataka, age of tobacco initiation is around 19 years. As per WHO report, every year, more than 10 lakhs die every year in India due to tobacco consumption. All NCD deaths are preventable. Due to change of life style, NCD issues are becoming major public health challenge in India. I am confident that activities of Project PaTHway shall complement the activity of the department to reach objectives of NTCP and NCD program in the State. I wish all the best to team PaTHWay and Department of HF&W will give necessary administrative support in implementation of this project.
Dr. Monika Arora, Director of the Health Promotion and Additional Professor at PHFI, said, “As per the evidence highlighted by the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS), 2016-17, there has been no reduction in the exposure to second hand smoke (SHS) at workplaces, whereas SHS at public places and homes has reduced between GATS-1 and GATS-2. Thus, underlining the need to step up tobacco cessation efforts at workplaces. Alcohol control has been a neglected area and no comprehensive national policy exists in the country on alcohol control. We aim to use participatory research methodology in this project to develop innovative interventions to prevent alcohol uptake among youth in India”.
Dr. Pratima Murthy, Professor of Psychiatry, Centre for Addiction Medicine, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), said, “it is often mentioned that Genes load the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger. Unhealthy lifestyles like improper diets, inadequate exercise, use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs and excessive stress are preventable risk factors for NCDs. This is true at all developmental stages. Thus helping people understand that they have a major role in keeping themselves healthy and preventing future illnesses is important in all age groups. Since it is best to develop healthy lifestyles starting young, this initiative is starting with young people in schools and colleges. Since workplaces have a captive audience, it is a setting where all the employees can be engaged to actively engage in activities to keep them physically and mentally healthy.”
Ms. Shashi Chidanand, Chief Risk Officer, Data Privacy Officer and Chief Compliance Officer for AXA Business Services said, “We are very pleased to be associated with Project PaTHWay that enables us to connect with the community at multiple levels and drive awareness on the adoption of healthy behaviours. This project will look at reducing the health burden from communicable and non-communicable diseases through targeted interventions in schools, colleges and corporates in Bangalore and Pune. This initiative further strengthens our commitment to Better Health, a key pillar of our Corporate Responsibility strategy by increasing awareness on risk prevention and protection through research and education.”
Project PaTHWay is an innovative behaviour change intervention on NCD prevention and control in multiple settings including schools, colleges and workplaces-across all age groups. It is being led by PHFI in collaboration with National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru and funded by AXA as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative. It addresses the main behavioural risk factors of NCDs (unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use) and subsequently aims to prevent and control them over a period of three years in which this project will be implemented. The study is guided by a multi-disciplinary advisory committee including experts from WHO, academic institutions, civil society 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 and tobacco-free schools. Teachers and peer leaders are being trained and engaged in this project to ensure sustainability of the programme beyond the project cycle.
- 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. Participatory Action Research (PAR) is being employed to engage youth into co-designing such interventions and take ownership of their own health.
- Worksite intervention: To promote tobacco cessation through proactive offers of tobacco cessation at workplaces with focus on promoting use of national tobacco quit line services offered by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.
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.
For more information, please visit www.phfi.org.