28 April, 2022

For over a decade, AstraZeneca and Plan India’s Young Health Program has been generating awareness and identifying sustainable solutions to influence the behaviour of youths against Non-Communicable Diseases

New Delhi: 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 flagship CSR initiative, Young Health Program 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. Present at the expansion program, 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 announcement was accompanied by a theatrical presentation of the positive effects of the programme work in the communities of Bawana, Holambikalan, and Badarpur in Delhi over the past decade. A group of about 15 beneficiaries, peer educators and youth from grassroot communities recreated an engagement tool that is used to draw attention to the cause and raise awareness on the ground.

The programme specifically focuses on educating youth on the ill-effects of tobacco, alcohol through peer pressure. 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 program was expanded to Tamil Nadu in addition to Delhi, with 2 HICs followed by its expansion to Karnataka with 3 HICs in Bengaluru.

On the occasion, Gagandeep Singh, Managing Director 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 behaviors 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 center. 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 behaviors 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 thus far, YHP has reached more than 8 million young people in more than 30 countries around the world. 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.

About the Young Health Programme: AstraZeneca’s Young Health Programme (YHP) is a global programme with a unique focus on young people age 10 to 24 and prevention of the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs): cancer, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease and mental ill health. Delivered in partnership with Plan International and UNICEF and informed by research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, YHP aims to support the development of protective environments and empower young people to make informed choices about their health.  YHP is part of our sustainability commitment to use our capabilities to make the most meaningful impact where society needs it -health.

About AstraZeneca Pharma India Limited: AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three therapy areas – Oncology, Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism and Respiratory. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. AstraZeneca India has a workforce of over 1,400 employees across the country committed to deliver great medicines to patients through innovative science and global excellence in development and commercialisation.