NEW DELHI, Apr 30 (The CONNECT) -AstraZeneca India, a science-led biopharmaceutical company, together with Plan India, an NGO striving to improve the lives of millions of children and young people, today announced the expansion of their Young Health Programme by opening 3 Health Information Centres (HIC) in Delhi across the communities of Sangam Vihar and Dakshin Puri. The flag off event organised at The India Habitat Centre saw a participation by senior dignitaries from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Directorate of Family Welfare, NCD Cell, MCD North, beneficiaries from the multiple under-resourced communities, Plan India and AstraZeneca India.
‘Young Health Programme’ aims to reduce the growing burden of non-communicable diseases on health systems with a focused approach to bring about a behaviour change specifically amongst youth from 10-24 years of age.
Dr Zoya Ali Rizvi, Deputy Commissioner, MOHFW, Govt of India, said, “It’s high time to focus more on NCDs as it’s a grim reality that the burden of NCDs on India is long-lasting given that more than 65% of the individuals suffering from NCDs are in the most productive life age groups i.e., between 26-59 years. Healthcare initiatives like YHP, undertaken at a community level, contribute significantly to arrest this trend and to provide equitable access to healthcare to people”.
The programme specifically focuses on educating youth on the ill-effects of tobacco, alcohol through peer support. Involving youth from the target communities itself, the programme undertakes a community-based approach to develop them into peer educators who in-turn shoulder the responsibility of expanding the message to the entire community. Thus far, YHP directly reached more than 460,000 young people with health information and trained more than 7,800 peer educators who have delivered numerous health promotion activities from time to time. In the year 2019, the programme was expanded to Tamil Nadu in addition to Delhi, with 2 HICs followed by its expansion to Karnataka with 3 HICs in Bengaluru.
Gagandeep Singh, Managing Director of AstraZeneca India said, “The launch of YHP in Delhi a decade back marked the vantage point for our global community investment initiatives in India, focused on empowering and sensitizing youngsters to be able to make healthier choices. With about 21 HICs now across Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, we aim to continue delivering accurate health information and encourage adoption of healthy practices amongst the youth. We are extremely thankful to the health authorities and our partners who have been with us on this journey to lay a strong foundation of this program in the country”.
Mohammed Asif, Executive Director Plan India said, " Since 2010, Plan India's Young Health initiative has been improving health behaviours among adolescents and young people with the support of AstraZeneca. Our efforts in NCD prevention have reached a critical stage to be able to work with government initiatives such as RKSK, and we are now expanding to Sangam Vihar and Dakshinpuri in order to reach 164,000 adolescents and young people with an innovative peer educator model and a youth-led health information centre. Having seen significant improvements in high-risk areas in Delhi, reaching out to new areas is yet another initiative to combat the high prevalence of risk behaviours associated with NCDs, such as tobacco use, alcohol abuse, poor eating habits, and inactive lifestyles."
YHP aims to reduce the uptake of unhealthy behaviours in young people to improve their health outcomes as adults and help address the growing burden of NCDs on health systems. Globally, YHP has reached more than 8 million young people in more than 30 countries. In 2020, AstraZeneca made a global commitment of $35 million to renew the YHP for another 5 years and set new and ambitious goals. From 2021 to 2025, the YHP aims to reach 10 million more young people with health information in countries around the world.
In a direction to create a multi-faceted impact, AstraZeneca is complementing the YHP with ‘New Normal Same Cancer’ and ‘Ganga Godavari Initiative’ that focuses on creating a mass scale awareness on cancers with the help of ambassadors and partners such as Indian Cancer Society and Banaras Hindu University. Under these initiatives, multiple cancer screening camps are conducted in the remote areas of the country where not many facilities are available.