Thursday, 9 March 2017

Public Health Symposium in PGI Brings Together Policymakers

By 121 News

Chandigarh 09th March:- Public health and communication experts and policymakers gather in the two-day 3rd Public Health Symposium at Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI), organized by the School of Public Health, PGI. The focus of this symposium is on 'Health Promotion'; with a theme 'Ensuring health lives and promotes well-being for all at all ages'.  

Welcoming the participants, Dr. Rajesh Kumar, Professor and Head, School of Public Health said that this symposium will result in actionable policy recommendations. He added that all sectors, not just the health sector, need to contribute to health promotion. For example, policymakers in Chandigarh have much to contribute to making the city not only beautiful, but also the first healthy city in India. In his key note speech, Director of PGI, Dr. Subhash Verma, highlighted that more importance should be given to preventive and promotive aspects of health. We must start from the very beginning starting from home, school and society in general.

The symposium was inaugurated by the Mayor of Chandigarh, Asha Jaswal said that Chandigarh Municipal Corporation tries to make Swacch Bharat Abhiyan a Jan Andolan (people's movement). Unless we have clean city, we can't think of a healthy city. She was open for suggestions and concrete and innovative ideas from the symposium that can be used by policymakers.

Dr. Sanjeev Kumar, Executive Director, NHSRC, stressed that as health scenario is changing rapidly, we need to change our orientation and start working with other sectors, and change our focus from disease to population as a whole", and emphasized the need to focus on health outcome framework for health promotion in a comprehensive manner.

Several speakers acknowledged the power of media in promoting health. Media has an enormous power in influencing the health of communities", acknowledged Prof. Dr. Sanjay Wadwalkar, Punjab University, but pointed out that there are very few media persons who are trained or focus on health.

Dr. Brian Joseph, Commissioner, Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia, shared his experiences from Canada and pointed out that Intersectoral coordination is a challenge in India and abroad and added that much needs to be done in different sectors often in a limited time, which is the most important constraint."

Dr. Mirai Chatterjee, Director, SEWA, emphasised that health promotion should be put on the public agenda like education, and health promotion training should be strengthened for grass-root level health educators such as ASHA.

In the session on health literacy, Dr. Manmeet Kaur, PGI, presented results from a recent pilot study which found that health literacy levels in Chandigarh and Punjab were much lower than that among most Asian and European countries. She expressed that, "Providing information alone is not sufficient, it is critical to enable people to understand and apply it." Talking about the importance of people-to-people communication, Bhawani Tripathy, UNICEF, said that leadership and governance are lacking for bringing about the desired change to promote health. People-to-people communication is more effective than other media and also sustainable to achieve health promotion.

Experts like Dr. Sanjay Badwalker acknowledged that it is easy to talk about behaviour change but very difficult to bring about change.

Talking about the role of Information Technology, J.S. Sahota, General Manager, BSNL, "BSNL has started Optical Fibre Network in several villages of Punjab – which are likely to improve health literacy levels as well.

Dr. Shivinder, National Health Mission, Punjab, presented highlights of Punjab government's contribution to health promotion through Sehat Jagrukta Muhim (Health Insights Campaigns) in Punjab using several hundred publicity vans.