By Nalini Saligram
Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and focused corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives can can help India emerge stronger from Covid-19. Together, they can set up an entire generation of adolescents for a lifetime of health and help companies all over India take care of the physical and mental health of working people. They can leverage mobile technology and social media and empower individuals to change behavior. India’s development scene is exciting – there are wonderful collaborations taking place among NGOs, and with governments and companies to build a better, stronger, and healthier India. .
Covid-19 has been the defining disrupter of our lifetimes. Going forward the world will witness a clear distinction between pre- Covid-19 and post- Covid-19 times. While children have had huge learning losses, workplaces have had to adapt to the lockdown overnight, jobs were lost, livelihoods gravely impacted. Also, people lost their loved ones in staggering numbers and suffered immensely, mental health deteriorated, and the economy came to a sudden standstill.
The emerging burden of NCDs in India
Despite the ongoing battle against the COVID pandemic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) remain the biggest and fastest growing threat to public health in the current century claiming around 2/3rds of Indian lives every year. These diseases, which include heart disease, and diabetes, affect India gravely, cause untold suffering for families and also hinder socioeconomic development in the country.
In India, with almost 77 million people living with diabetes, the lower socio-economic sections of the society are most impacted. Around 25% of a poor family’s income is spent on treating a family member with diabetes, pushing the family deeper into poverty. The alarming fact is that in the metros 3 out of 4 adults are either diabetic or prediabetic. The disease impacts productivity of working professionals in their prime years. The demographic dividend may become a demographic disaster if we don’t address NCDs. Tackling NCDs is the need of the hour for India, to preserve workforce productivity and the country’s competitive edge at a global level.
NCD prevention is the smart solution
The Covid-19 pandemic has established the vulnerability of diabetic patients emphasizing the need to manage and prevent the disease among people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 80% of type 2 diabetes and heart diseases can be prevented by eating right, avoiding tobacco, and exercising regularly.
We can’t treat our way out of the NCD crisis – the diseases are so widespread. Prevention at the population level is smart and achievable.
Prevention should be readily accessible to the community and not be overly medicalized. A doorstep health approach, like the one taken by Arogya World, that involves taking healthy living to people where they live, learn and work is a viable approach.
Working together to build back better
Now when Covid-19 has set us back in our march towards fulfilling sustainable development goals (SDGs), collaboration is the need of the hour to fulfill our collective mission to make the world a better place.
Healthy living is a great umbrella under which individuals, companies, NGOs, and indeed, all of society can gather, and help India emerge stronger after COVID. Healthy Living not only prevents NCDs, it reduces negative outcomes from COVID, boosts Immunity, improves our mental well-being and resilience.
(The author is Founder & CEO, Arogya World. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult health experts and medical professionals before starting any therapy or medication. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)