With changing health scenario, India is facing triple epidemic of Communicable Diseases and Non- Communicable Diseases (NCDs) including mental and neurological disorders and injuries. NCDs include wide ranging conditions like cardiovascular disease, Stroke, Diabetes; Mental and Neurological disorders, Cancer, Respiratory diseases, injuries and others. A wide range of behaviors like tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and increasing stress along with physiological risk factors like hypertension, raised levels of blood sugar, cholesterol have been identified as major underlying determinants of NCDs.
Activities in this area have focused on strengthening mortality information systems, risk factors of NCDs, service utilization patterns and others. Under a programme initiated and implemented by the division of NCDs in WHO-SEARO, capacity strengthening of policy makers and programme managers has been conducted in several countries of the region. The specific modules have focused on introduction and overview, social determinants, burden and impact of NCDs, risk factors, globalization and impact, evidence based public health interventions, challenges to public health and inter-sectoral coordination, formulating public health policies for NCDs prevention and control, role of surveillance and research, monitoring and evaluation, measuring cost-effectiveness and, global, regional and national initiatives.
Several research projects with focus on risk factors (tobacco, alcohol, stress, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, along with large number of mental health behaviours) have been completed in the department. The findings have resulted in developing intervention programmes and follow-up studies at different levels.
The department has made efforts to establish a NCD working group in Bangalore in collaboration with Government departments, community medicine departments of medical colleges and local NGOs. Human resource development programmes are conducted to develop the necessary manpower.
1. The department worked in collaboration with census department of Government of Karnataka, The Registrar General of India’s Sample Registration system and centre for Global health research to strengthen mortality patterns due to NCDs with verbal autopsy methods.
2. In 2005, the department examined the close association of social determinants with health behaviours and health conditions based on secondary sources of data for the city of Bangalore in a project supported by World Health Organization, Kobe, Japan. The findings of the study have resulted in development of Bangalore healthy urbanization project in 2007.
3. During 2005 and 2007, Dr. Gururaj supported the NCD division of World Health Organization, South-East Asia Regional office, New Delhi and World Health Organization, Kobe, Japan to develop evidence based programmes in the region. Ten modules for capacity strengthening of policy makers and programme managers for integrated prevention and control of NCDs was developed and implemented by WHO-SEARO along with experts in the region. Inputs are also provided for the “WHO programme on prevention of NCDs – developing country frameworks for action” in South-east Asia.