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A Healthy Youth Will Decrease Disease Burden Of Future: Upasana Kamineni

In an interaction with BW Healthcare World, Upasana Kamineni Konidela, Vice Chairperson, CSR, Apollo Hospitals speaks on the philanthropic initiative, Billion Hearts Beating of Apollo Hospitals and how preventive care will be essential going forward

How do you think preventive care will help us in managing the rising NCD burden of India?

India is a young country, the International Labour Organization tells us that India has the largest youth population in the world; about 66 per cent of our total population is below 35. Ensuring our youth is healthy will decrease the disease burden on the country in future. Preventive health and Wellbeing is a key investment that the government, Corporate India and individuals must focus on in order to achieve financial well-being in future. A substantial part of preventive health is also working towards planetary health and reinstating environmental balance. The impact of climate change on our health: heart and lung disease, can have a negative impact during a climate crisis.

How can preventive care be made accessible to the masses residing in remote places? What are the initiatives BHB is undertaking for accessibility?

Well, to begin with, it is important to understand that BHB (Billion Hearts Beating)  has two core philanthropic initiatives under the Apollo Foundation: Total Health - which is a rural development programme, where we look at womb-to-tomb care across all the pillars of health, including setting up infrastructure for both preventive health measures (such as sports facilities, nutrition centres) and curative (clinics). Billion Hearts Beating believes in healing with dignity & empathy through over 200 senior care homes that we support with free monthly medicines, health camps, and health amenities.

Making preventive health accessible to all irrespective of their background is our core goal.  From BHB we have learnt that consistency is key – we deliver medicines to 200+ homes irrespective of whether there are floods or lockdowns. From Total Health we have learnt that integrative community health is key for the wellbeing of the people. Our mobile vans go from village to village – we cover 135 villages in Andhra Pradesh’s Thavanampalle and Irala mandals. In the Amrabad Forest Reserve, we cannot take mobile vans into the forest, so we take smaller vehicles and doctors visit, on a rotational basis, each of the 10 pentas and 45 gram panchayats we work in.

What are the imperatives for the preventive care setups to work in rural settings? How can penetration and acceptance be scaled?

The first step is to assess the population. At Total Health, we do this through a health survey using the World Health Organization’s STEPwise approach, to assess risk factors for NCDs. Once we know what the main problem is, we can take measures to minimize risk. We believe in enhancing already running programs by NGOs & government rather than duplicating. For instance, in the Aragonda village in Andhra Pradesh, we realized that diabetes was on the rise and therefore we started conversation on eating healthy & yoga to educate people who are pre diabetic. Kitchen gardens and conversation around movement & mental health have been initiated to help the community. 

What are essential programs or life support training that are needed in the hinterlands of the country?

For BHB, the basic life support training conducted on a regular basis, is essential for those in public life. At the city level, we train NCC cadets and the police force in both CPR and first aid.  Deeper inland, in the forest areas where Total Health works for instance, we have groomed a team of people we call Arrjava Warriors, who form a bridge between the tribal Chenchu community to which they belong and the medical team.

How can preventive care be made accessible to the masses residing in remote places? What are the initiatives BHB is undertaking for accessibility?

Well, to begin with, it is important to understand that BHB (Billion Hearts Beating)  has two core philanthropic initiatives under the Apollo Foundation: Total Health - which is a rural development programme, where we look at womb-to-tomb care across all the pillars of health, including setting up infrastructure for both preventive health measures (such as sports facilities, nutrition centres) and curative (clinics). Billion Hearts Beating believes in healing with dignity and empathy through over 200 senior care homes that we support with free monthly medicines, health camps, and health amenities.

Making preventive health accessible to all irrespective of their background is our core goal.  From BHB we have learnt that consistency is key. We deliver medicines to 200 plus homes irrespective of whether there are floods or lockdowns. From Total Health we have learnt that integrative community health is key for the wellbeing of the people. Our mobile vans go from village to village and we cover 135 villages in Andhra Pradesh’s Thavanampalle and Irala mandals. In the Amrabad Forest Reserve, we cannot take mobile vans into the forest, so we take smaller vehicles and doctors visit, on a rotational basis, each of the 10 pentas and 45 gram panchayats we work in.

How is BHB serving the cause of preventive care? What challenges and opportunities have you witnessed during the course of this venture?

BHB serves preventive health by offering senior care homes free medicines, health camps and amenities. This brings down the fatality rate. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we didn’t loose any of the elders in the homes we supported. By conducting basic life support training, making people better first responders, thereby making people better first responders. By establishing and running emergency care units, like the ones in Tirupati and the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus, to provide immediate resuscitation to victims of heart attack, stroke, accidents and other life threatening emergencies.

What impact has this initiative had on issues like awareness among others and how do you plan for the future?

Our numbers speak for themselves. Billion Hearts Beating now serves 200 senior care homes with medicines, regular health camps, and the supply of health amenities such as wheelchairs. We are on track to serving 300 homes by March 2023. We have also conducted almost 2,500 health activities that raise awareness and also provide basic health tests. Our free health camps have benefited 1,10,000 in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Telangana, Delhi & Karnataka. We have served almost 20,000 plus people with basic life support training. In September alone, we have trained 2,000 plus people in BLS.

We are also in expansion mode, and are now in 10 states. Our emergency care centres in Tirupati and at Chennai’s bus terminus serve 1,000 plus people on a monthly basis. This year we conducted a pilot programme in Chennai to supply free medicines to the trans community, and we will be expanding this. We are now the knowledge partners for the Vijaywada Police department for basic life support training.



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