Syngene International a research organisation, in association with Narayana Health, Agastya International Foundation and Biocon Foundation (Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of Syngene), announced the launch of CHAMPS (Child Health Activists Mentoring and Promoting Heath in Society), a student mediated initiative focussed on preventing and managing early onset of non communicable diseases (NCDs). The initiative aims at educating and training high school students to be change agents towards improving health seeking behaviour in their communities at large. The inaugural event also saw the launch of a mobile science lab, that will tour various schools and is designed for students to practically experience the magic of science. Equipped with science models and specifically designed experiments, the mobile lab is intended to reach under-resourced schools in rural areas across the country.
In India, 60 per cent of all deaths are caused by NCDs such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart and respiratory diseases. Studies conducted in various parts of India have reported high prevalence of hypertension with little to no awareness and control. The Fourth National Family Health Survey evaluated and reported hypertension in 207 million people (men 112 million, women 95 million) in India. The CHAMPS initiative shall address this public health issue of hypertension through eight and ninth standard students who shall be trained to screen for these symptoms within their community. The initiative which is currently being rolled out as a five-month pilot, is intended to be a three-year long programme focussed on educating students in prevention and management of early onset of NCDs and promoting a healthier lifestyle among the members of the community.
The combined synergies of Narayana Health as knowledge partner, Syngene and Biocon Foundation as funding partners and Agastya International as the implementation partner will ensure greater awareness in the involved communities. The training modules are tailored to comprehension levels of students who have enrolled and has been designed to create awareness on hypertension and training them in the use of the blood pressure apparatus.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Managing Director, Syngene International, in light of the initiative, said, “As indicated in the ‘Hypertension in India’ report by National Centre of Biotechnology and Information (NCBI), the number of deaths in India, due to hypertension, has risen and the states with greater urbanisation, human and social development have greater incidence of hypertension. Through the CHAMPS initiative, we shall engage high school students as change agents within their communities, by training them to screen for symptoms, ie. record blood pressure readings and share it with relevant authorities. This will enable monitoring of NCDs in the communities for corrective actions to be implemented.”