Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is preparing to introduce health education as a compulsory subject in schools
If the proposal finally materialises, students in schools across the country will be soon taught about communicable and non-communicable diseases at length. The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has already tied up with the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and is in talks with the State governments asking them to work out the modalities to bring in ‘health education’ as a subject in school.
Speaking about this latest initiative, Director General (Health Services) Dr. Jagdish Prasad said: “This subject will be taught in middle school and senior classes and we have already prepared the syllabus. There is also an attempt to try and introduce the students to the best practices followed across the world in terms of prevention of lifestyle associated diseases.”
Dr. Prasad said that the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare is currently preparing the course framework, adding that diabetes control and management will be a major part of the syllabus.
He noted that ‘health education’ will be introduced as a compulsory subject with both theory and practical components and will also focus on generating awareness about the need to eat healthy, exercise, stay away from alcohol, tobacco and substance abuse. “It will give students a holistic view on health.”
Dr. Prasad was speaking on the sidelines of a recent event organised by CII and pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, which will be coming together to form a national platform for creating new ideas and approaches for controlling and managing growing incidence of diabetes in the country. This initiative will be supported by the Union Ministry of Health.
Giving an insight into the diabetes burden on the country, Dr. Prasad said: “India has over 61 million diabetic patients today as against 50.8 million last year, an increase of over 12 per cent. Estimates put that by 2030, India’s diabetes burden will cross 100 million, as against 87 million estimated earlier. The International Diabetes Federation’s (IDF) fifth diabetes atlas says that India’s diabetes prevalence in the age-group of 20-79 is 9.2 per cent and at that rate India is only second to China in terms of incidence of diabetes. In 2012, diabetes caused 983,000 deaths in India and that way the largest contributor of mortality.”
Stating that the government was associating itself with this new initiative to ensure that there is enough awareness about controlling lifestyle diseases, including diabetes, he said: “Governmental delivery systems at the States and the Centre are not sufficient to combat the growing incidence of diabetes. We need a multi-stakeholder approach to address the present and future challenges posed by the disease.”
Talking about the steps being taken by the government for diabetes control and management, Dr. Prasad said that screening of people is continuing throughout the country, both in urban and rural areas. The incidence of diabetes is more in the urban centres on account of changing lifestyles. The Centre is supporting the State governments not only for screening but also for meeting the expenses for diabetic treatment. In this regard, he informed that for every 5,000 people in rural areas, one glucometer is being given free for screening and diabetic related treatment is free.