AstraZeneca India: For youth empowerment
AstraZeneca India, established in 1979 and head-quartered at Bengaluru, Karnataka believes in improving health which is one of the toughest challenges faced by the world today. To accomplish its mission, the company has established Young Health Programme (YHP) in November 2010. It aims to make a meaningful difference to the health and well being of adolescent boys and girls from five marginalised areas of Delhi, known as resettlement colonies.
With an intention to serve the entire society on a single platform, it has established AstraZeneca’s global community investment, a partnership between AstraZeneca, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Plan International. Informing about the company’s objectives, Smita Saha, Vice President – HR, AstraZeneca Pharma India Limited (AZPIL) says, “YHP aims to positively impact the health of adolescents in marginalised communities worldwide through research and evidence generation, advocacy and on-the-ground programmes which are focused on non-communicable disease (NCD) prevention.”
With a focus on NCD prevention, YHP globally is enabling AstraZeneca to provide a life course approach to NCD prevention and control. The venture is helping to enhance the company’s brand and reputation among key internal and external stakeholders. “It demonstrates our ability to work with partners as well as to design and implement locally-tailored, cross- sector approaches,” Saha informs.
|“YHP aims to positively impact the health of adolescents in marginalised communities worldwide through research, advocacy and programmes which are focused on NCD prevention.”
AstraZeneca Pharma India Limited
Employees of the company across the globe are engaged with YHP. In India, employees have made visits to the communities and increased their understanding of the health issues faced by young people in these communities – Mangolpuri, Holambi Kalan and Badarpur respectively.
Saha asserts, “YHP India will continue to work in the five communities in Delhi, developing the programme and ensuring the activities are sustainable. The YHP India, in four to five years, will continue to contribute towards the same goals i.e. building capacity of adolescent girls and boys who take positive action on their own health, raising wider community awareness of key adolescent health issues, improving access to youth friendly services, and addressing immediate needs in relation to water, sanitation and hygiene.”
YHP India is funded by AstraZeneca and delivered by Plan India, working with community partners, Navshriti (Holambi Kalan), CASP (Badarpur and Mandanpur Khadar), Dr A V Baliga Trust (Mangolpuri) and Alamb (Dwarka). In India, the programme has been running for the past three years in five project sites (Badarpur, Madanpur Khadar, Mangolpuri, Holambi Kalan and Dwarka), which cover three districts of Delhi. It works with young people aged 10-24 years old and focuses on hygiene and sanitation, sexual reproductive health and wider health issues such as tobacco use and abuse of alcohol. In collaboration with local government and NGO partners, over three years the programme has to date benefited over 114493 young people and reached over 129187 wider community members including parents, health and educational professionals and policy makers. We have trained close to 1800 peer educators who are taking this message forward to their peers and community people. Saha outlines, “We know the output and impact of the programme on society. E.g. Since the YHP India programme was launched, it has reached over 77,000 young people directly, 15 Health Information Centres (HIC) which have been set up serve as a forum to bring young people together to learn discuss and take action on key adolescent health issues.”
In 2011, the YHP partnership made a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action to tackle NCDs in young people, and meet a target of reaching 250,000 young people directly and 250,000 indirectly by the end of 2015. It has also started another programme called ‘on the ground programme’, YHP ‘on the ground programmes’ are now running in 20 countries across five continents and have directly reached over 485,000 young people aged 10-24 and two million wider population.
New aim to achieve
The success of project revolves around the commitment which mainly comes from people engagements and deep understanding of issues. YHP has formed HIC committees which are made up of parents, young people and local leaders who meet to discuss local health issues. “To ensure the sustainability of the resource, these committees will in future take increasing responsibility for the running of the HIC. 1,581 peer educators (PE) trained by YHP are responsible for spreading awareness in their respective communities. They lead a variety of interventions to bring about positive and healthy behavioural change amongst young people in their communities. This includes delivering outreach activities, referring young people to health services for treatment and supporting the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in carrying out awareness-raising campaigns on malaria and dengue,” Saha shares.
Information is disseminated to the over 77,000 wider community through various mediums such as street plays, magic shows, workshops, community meetings, video shows, competitions, thematic camps and fairs. Training of 295 government health professionals including Anganwadi workers (family health), ASHA workers (community health) and Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) have been a part of YHP’s achievements as well. Briefing about the programme, Saha mentions, “A mid-term evaluation of the programme has just been undertaken, with results expected in mid-July. The YHP India aims to reach further 25,000 young people aged 10-24 (including 15,000 girls) directly through project interventions.”
Meeting the challenges
Providing sustainable access to healthcare for all those who need it is a significant global challenge. The complexities surrounding the issue mean that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Factors affecting access range from the affordability of medicines to the availability of healthcare systems and the resources to make them effective. “We believe it will take a combined global effort involving all related stakeholders to drive sustainable progress in increasing access to healthcare worldwide – and we know that, as a global biopharma company, we can make a meaningful contribution to that effort,” Saha commits.
The availability of medicines is not always the primary challenge. Access to healthcare also depends on having a functional healthcare system and the right allocation of resources to make sure that medicines are used appropriately as part of overall health management. “For people in communities with limited healthcare infrastructure, we partner with others to help strengthen healthcare frameworks and capabilities,” she signs off.