Health Awareness Promotion ? Project India to tackle Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in IT companie

A project to create awareness about Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) among IT professionals was launched today in Hyderabad. Titled Health Awareness Promotion Project India (HAPPI), the voluntary project was launched by Prevent NCD Foundation consisting of eminent cardiologists, entrepreneurs and fitness management experts. The project came into being after these eminent personalities came across vital statistics according to which young, urban professionals have been proven to be highly vulnerable to NCDs. ADP Pvt Ltd will be the first company to implement this project at its Hyderabad campus.
Commenting on the tie-up with HAPPI, Mr. Shakti Sagar, Managing Director, ADP Pvt Ltd said, “As an organization, two areas that we are focused on serving the community, are education and health.  Our interactions with the HAPPI team helped us understand that NCDs are a major cause of poverty and an urgent development issue. Given this scenario, we felt it was the right cause to support HAPPI in their endeavor of creating a Happy India.”
Four of the major NCDs – heart disease, cancer, lung disease and diabetes – are linked by common, preventable risk factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, and lack of physical activity. Studies have shown that educating individuals about the benefits of exercise, a healthy diet and stopping use of all types of tobacco contributed significantly to decreasing the risk for NCDs. BRIC countries are estimated to be currently losing 20 million productive life years annually, growing to 65 million by 2030. Productivity losses due to heart diseases are as follows: China (USD 555 Billion), Russia (USD 330 Billion), India (USD 240 Billion) and UK (USD 33 Billion). India stands to lose USD 237 billion over the next 10 years from premature deaths due to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
“NCDs are the leading cause of global death and disability. The World Health Organization report 2005 estimates that 60% i.e., 35 million of global mortality is due to NCDs and this figure is projected to increase 17% by 2015. 9% of these deaths are of those under 65 years of age and 90% of those deaths occur in undeveloped countries. Now is the time to act,” said Dr. B Ramesh Babu, Founder, Prevent NCD Foundation and MD of Medwin Hospital.  
“We will reach out to local IT corporations, conduct online employee NCD risk assessment and assist corporations' wellness committees to develop and manage NCD prevention awareness programs in the workplace. The software for this has already been developed. There is a need for corporates to assess themselves for NCDs given their sedentary lifestyles and work pressures,” said Mr. Sateesh Andra, trustee, Prevent NCD Foundation and venture partner, DFJ.
Internationally, workplace interventions have proven to be ideal settings for health promotion as it is possible to influence lifestyle choices of large portions of the young, professional population. High levels of stress, unhealthy dietary habits, sedentary habits, excessive smoking and alcohol abuse contribute to the extreme vulnerability of this segment of society. Simple life style modifications at the workplace would reap extensive benefits for the individuals and society at large. It is of vital importance to pay attention to this young growing population now, to avoid massive burden to the Indian society in the near future.
The program will mainly focus on increasing awareness regarding importance of lifestyle changes through regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet and stopping use of all types of tobacco. Following will be the key elements of this program:
1. Risk assessment: employees will have to complete a simple 10 minute online assessment to determine their level of risk
2. Health education: Health talks, videos, articles and posters will be used to increase health awareness
3. Fun physical activity incentive programs will be conducted.
“Indians are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes especially in their 30s and this has a tremendous impact on workplace productivity because of employee absence,” said another trustee, Dr Ravi Bathina who is the Director, South Asian Institute of Preventive Cardiology (SAIPC) at CARE group of Hospitals.
Chief Evangelist and Program Manager, HAPPI Ms. Sylvette Wake said, “The project will help in early detection and intervention of NCDs besides tackling reduced absenteeism due to health problems. The ultimate goal is lifelong education in prevention and self-management.” Several other IT companies in Hyderabad will soon become part of the HAPPI project, she added.
The other founders / trustees of Prevent NCD Foundation include Mr. Raghu Bathina, senior director at Citrix Systems and serial entrepreneur, Mr. Pullela Gopichand, former badminton player who was ranked among the top 10 players and Mr. D Suresh Babu, Managing Director of Suresh Productions, one of India’s largest movie production houses. The members associated with the project intend to take the project to interior parts of Andhra Pradesh and also other states of the country gradually over the course of next few years.