As we continue to evolve into an interconnected world, the emphasis continues to be on how we can retain our health and vitality. While we might have achieved success over infectious diseases, the focus now shifts to Non-Communicalble Diseases (NCD). To add to it a lot of us spend more than 8-10 hours at the workplace, which determines the source of our health and vitality. Arogya World has been working in this space for a while.
Introducing Arogya World
Arogya World (www.arogyaworld.org) is a global health non-profit working to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs). We strive to achieve our mission – to change the course of chronic disease – through a focus on partnerships and innovative technology, and by implementing scalable, sustainable programs with measurable impact.
Non-communicable diseases, NCDs, which include heart disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic lung diseases, are among the top health and development challenges of the century. 2 out of 3 deaths in the world are due to NCDs with 80% of them in developing countries. India has an alarming diabetes burden – 80 million people live with the disease and 1 million die from it each year.
Our Solution – Prevention is key
At the core of all our work is disease prevention through healthy living. According to the World Health Organization, 80% of heart disease, 80% diabetes and 40% cancer can be prevented by avoiding tobacco, increasing physical activity and eating healthy foods. These lifestyle changes are what we promote.
With half of India’s 1 billion plus people less than 25 years of age, we have to find ways to reach young people and teach them prevention. Mobile technology and leveraging schools and workplaces are smart solutions and these are the platforms our programs are built on.
Our Work in India
We implement scalable diabetes prevention programs, educating and empowering housewives and farmers, working adults and school children to take definitive steps towards leading healthier lives. With our India-based programs we are taking the first steps towards building a chronic disease prevention model for the developing world. To further advance this work, an affiliate Arogya World India Trust has been set up as a separate entity.
Arogya World follows a doorstep health model, which takes prevention to people where they live, learn and work. Our focus is on scalable, science-based programs designed to reach a large population. These are deployed in schools, workplaces, and bringing information right up to people’s phones. Our programs are aligned with sustainable development goals and Government of India’s priorities (Ayushman Bharath, Fit India, Eat Right Campaign and Potion Abhiyan). We believe our work will help India meet SDG #3 which is Good Health and Wellbeing.
Healthy Workplace Initiative was developed with the intent of advancing the workplace health movement in India. We motivate companies in India to invest in workplace wellness through pioneering awards. This innovative approach leverages workplaces, where working Indians spend so much of their day, as a platform for chronic disease prevention. Public Health Foundation of India, IAOH Delhi, CII, iNFHRA, GACS and others have joined us as Commitment Partners.
Employees spend a significant part of their lives at the workplace. Many working professionals have become increasingly sedentary, contributing to inactive lifestyles and unhealthy living. Employers have the opportunity and responsibility to improve the health and wellness of their staff, while simultaneously improving productivity.
As part of our program we urge employers and leaders to do more to help employees lead healthier lives, to shape their company’s culture to becoming health promoting, and to become data driven around health so that they can improve their employee health programs year on year. We also provide some tools to help individual employees make better and smarter lifestyle choices.
Corporates have to seriously consider an employer approach to improve employee health, which will help them mitigate sick leave and absenteeism, reduced productivity and increased healthcare costs. Arogya World’s Healthy Workplace Program focuses on employee wellness, the investments companies are making in health and productivity strategies, and the effort towards increasing engagement in health and wellness programs internally.
Company sponsored wellness programs have to include activities such as company-sponsored exercise, weight-loss competitions, educational seminars, tobacco-cessation programs and health screenings that are designed to help employees eat better, lose weight and improve their overall physical health. A healthy workforce means a better bottom line, more productivity, greater competitive advantage.
What are the challenges at workplaces?
Challenges of a Corporate Employee often puts them at risk of NCDs
1. Unhealthy eating, smoking, and drinking,
2. Busy lifestyle and low awareness to health risks
3. Sedentary lifestyle and mental stress
4. Low compliance to annual health check-up
Arogya World’s Healthy Workplace Assessment is direct, robust and transparent. The process of assessment for the Bronze, Silver and Gold level starts with initial awareness sessions where the organization is taken through the criteria ( http://arogyaworld.org/healthy-workplaces-criteria/ ) and its implications- banning tobacco use, healthy eating, increasing physical activity, and improving work-life balance. Emphasis is also placed on changing the mind-set of management at all levels towards promoting employee wellness.
The company then submits an application highlighting its employee health initiatives by submitting a questionnaire that has been developed based on the set of criteria. Subsequently, a 3-person team (which includes a medical doctor, an industry expert, and an Arogya leader) visits the organization’s facilities, evaluates the initiatives taken, and has a meeting with the coordinating department (which is usually the HR department). This year, the assessments will be conducted virtually.
The findings are compiled and after a good discussion among the assessors, a decision is made as to whether the organisation is at Bronze, Silver or Gold category. To qualify, companies must meet 80% of the criteria in each level.
During the assessment, the strengths of the company are highlighted and areas of improvement are brought forward, as also the best practices adopted by peer companies. This gives the company a good opportunity to benchmark itself against industry standards, understanding of where they are and how they can advance to the higher level. We guide the companies to improve employee well-being, including physical and mental health, along with tackling workplace and personal stress
More than 134 companies have been onboarded as Healthy Workplaces on our program from 2013-2020, out of which 33 companies have reached the Platinum level, leadership and data-driven initiative beyond the Gold level.
We felicitate our winning companies in front of their peers at our annual Healthy Workplace Conference which is usually held during first week in November- near World Diabetes Day. The event has a workplace wellness Best Practices workshop and an award event. This year it will be organized virtually.
What are the benefits of our Healthy Workplace Program?
1. Better equipped for and more aware of NCD prevention
2. Better performance and reduced number of workdays lost
3. Better quality of life
4. Fewer health complications
1. Better Corporate Health
2. Improved productivity
3. Decreased reimbursements and healthcare costs
4. Fewer sick leaves and reduced absenteeism
5. Lower insurance premiums and lower hospital admissions
We believe a multi-sectoral approach is needed to advance the fight against NCDs and we believe it is our generation’s responsibility to fix NCDs. Arogya World is determined to use public private partnerships and smart technology to make measurable and significant public health impact.
We aspire to develop a framework for the whole ecosystem of prevention of NCDs by integrating efforts being undertaken by various organizations and professionals in the domain. We would like to build Healthy Workplaces into a robust community and engage more deeply with them offering more programs and services.
By Usha Chander, Arogya World