24 Sep 2012, BioSpectrum Bureau , BioSpectrum
New Delhi: One year after the historic United Nations high level meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs), Medtronic announced a five-year, $6 million philanthropic commitment in India to accelerate programs specifically designed to expand access to quality care and management of diabetes and heart disease, two of the world's leading killers.
"Coming out of the UN high level meeting, it's been our pledge to help drive action at the country level, and then share those results globally," said Dr Jacob Gayle, executive director, Medtronic Foundation and vice president, Medtronic Community Affairs. "By focusing on diabetes and cardiovascular disease, we hope to strengthen overall health systems in order to expand access in underserved communities. Given both the need and opportunity in India, it was clear that we needed to ramp up our support to help those already working to improve care."
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is currently the leading cause of death in urban and rural India, killing three million people each year. India is also home to more than 60 million diabetics, which is more than any other country.
"Chronic diseases have reached epidemic proportions in India," said Professor K Srinath Reddy of the Public Health Foundation of India, who spoke with Dr Gayle at a September 21 press briefing. "Less than half of the people living with these diseases are diagnosed and receiving treatment. A concerted effort toward addressing this burden of NCDs requires strengthening the health system through an innovative, multi-sectoral approach."
On September 20, the Medtronic Foundation convened a group of community health experts, non-profits, academia and the private sector in New Delhi. Among those attending were several Medtronic Foundation grantees in India including Dr D Prabhakaran from the Centre for Chronic Disease Control in New Delhi and Dr Nikhil Tandon from All India Institute of Medical Sciences, who recently launched a pilot program funded by the Medtronic Foundation in Himachal Pradesh using high-tech healthcare tools and community health worker training to better screen, diagnose and treat diabetes and CVD patients.