Tackling Noncommunicable Diseases in India
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for 60 percent of deaths in India each year, and the burden of these NCDs has increased exponentially recently. Expanding India’s health workforce is crucial for achieving its public health goals and ensuring sustainable, comprehensive health across the country. In view of the inevitability of scaling up capacity building and training of the health workforce on NCDs, Project HOPE in association with Takeda Pharmaceutical organized a National Consultation on “Optimizing the Skills of Health Workforce to Tackle NCDs in India.”
The Consultation drew experts from many sectors including government, corporate, senior endocrinologists and diabetologists, civil society, academia and international donor agencies. It provided a platform for presenting and discussing the most recent innovations, promising practices, trends, challenges and solutions adopted to improve the skills of health workers working in the field of NCDs.
In his address at the Consultation, Chief Guest Dr. Jitendra Singh said, “Youth energy is powering India’s development and growth story, to sustain which, we need a healthy youth.” Dr. Singh is the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space.
Mr. Edgard A Olaizola, Managing Director, Eli Lilly and Company, India & Sri Lanka, spoke about the critical role of patient network groups in peer-to-peer learning platform for managing NCDs. Referring to the Lilly NCD Partnership, implemented with Project HOPE, Olaizola pointed out that Positive Deviants play an important role as community educators. Quoting the example of the Lok Shikshak from Sonipat, he voiced his opinion on the use of such innovations for NCD self-management. He also highlighted the need of making the screening process simpler and more effective by leveraging technology and the need for training physicians at the primary health center. Further, he emphasised on the need of state officials’ involvement in the NCD management program.
The Consultation put forth key recommendations including:
- a dedicated medical curriculum on NCDs at the undergraduate level
- the introduction of a government certified diabetes education course
- an increase in the number of skilled specialists in the health workforce
- a standardized training module that is uniform and used across the country
- the effective use of technology for reach and e-learning for building capacity of frontline workers
- putting the public first in the public-private partnerships
- AYUSH collaboration for NCD training to expand reach
- integrating NCDs into the national healthcare plan
- multimodal skill development of the health workforce, including hands-on training
- frontline workers to be provided with information about referral pathways
- soocial media to be recognized as a key player in creating awareness, especially in addressing juvenile diabetes