`Celebrities should not endorse negative products'

Devesh K. Pandey

AGRA: With India having one of the largest youth populations in the world, experts at the Global Youth Meet on Health-2006 here on Wednesday said investments should be made in their basic health and education to achieve accelerated development of the country. They also urged celebrities around the world not to endorse negative products such as tobacco and alcohol.

After a public release of an overview of the World Development Report-2007 by the World Bank, K. Srinath Reddy, Executive Director of HRIDAY-SHAN and Professor of Cardiology at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, said it was important that the Indian Government concentrated more on creating conditions to empower the youth of today. "At present, India has the largest economically productive population in the 15-to-59 years age group. And in the coming two decades this band is to witness the fastest ever expansion. It would happen for the first time in the history," said Prof. Reddy, adding that efforts should be made to take advantage of the available potential or else the opportunity would go waste.

`Formulate laws'

Prof. Reddy said the Government should also formulate laws to put a curb on use of "bidis", which did maximum damage. "It would help improve the health conditions of the economically weaker sections," he added.

About the meet, Prof. Reddy informed that in all 60 experts, including 40 resource persons from the other countries, are participating. "Over 200 children from as many as 37 countries are attending,'' he said, adding that issues pertaining to health, tobacco and environment have been deliberated at length.

The agenda prepared during the six-day meet would be circulated as a model through the World Heart Federation that will promote it through 25 organisations working on various health issues across the world.

Robert Beaglehole, a director of the World Health Organisation, said there was an urgent need to formulate and implement policies to discourage use of tobacco and other "negative" products in the country as it was affecting its productive strength.

"Clear policies should be formulated to ban tobacco-related products and they should be implemented effectively. The Government should inform, educate and disseminate knowledge among the masses on the issue," said Dr. Beaglehole, pointing out that as per a projection, India stood to lose over $200 billion in the next decade due to tobacco through heart disease and stroke.

He said with a two per cent annual reduction in chronic disease death rates worldwide, one in six lives saved would be from India.

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