Thursday, 27 July 2017

PGI School of Public Health organizes Lecture on Tobacco and Alcohol

By 121 News

Chandigarh 27th July:- PGIMER School of Public Health organized its fourth Annual Public Health Lecture which was delivered by Dr Abhay Bang, Director, Society for Education Action and Research in Community Health (SEARCH), Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. Dr Abhay Bang, a recipient of "Maharashtra Bhushan", highest state award of Maharashtra state, spoke on "How to reduce tobacco and alcohol use in population? Story of a district pilot in Gadchiroli". The lecture was based on his experience of reducing tobacco and alcohol use in Gadchiroli district pilot program which is spearheaded by the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

Prof. Rajesh Kumar, Sub-Dean of PGI and Head School of Public Health, welcomed the participants and introduced the distinguished speaker. He informed the audience about the achievements and contributions of Dr Bang, who is credited with the concept of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) under National Rural Health Mission in India. Based on his work, the Government of India has now inducted and trained more than 900,000 ASHA workers under NRHM program across the country.

In his lecture, Dr Abhay Bang informed the audience about the multi-pronged approach being followed by SEARCH in Gadchiroli. Earlier, he started de-addiction program, group therapies to treat rural addicts from alcohol at his SEARCH organization but he could treat only 20% of total addicts. The reason behind this ineffective approach was the problem of illicit alcohol due to ineffective police system. Therefore, to curb the prevalence, he shifted his focus on multiple interventions against alcohol and tobacco. He started the "Muktipath" program towards Alcohol and Tobacco Free Gadchiroli District and for health and economic development of the district. This program aims to bring down the prevalence of alcohol and tobacco use by 50% in next 3 years. He emphasized on the community involvement to monitor and control these health problems. Using PESA Act, 1996, a constitution right of self-governance of traditional Gram Sabhas living in the Scheduled Areas of India, 422 villages resolved to Darubandi in the district. He and his team used both scientific as well as mass appeal approach by involving religious leaders to control menace in the district. So far, he has found a 23% relative reduction in alcohol use in 2 years.

The lecture was attended by more than 200 participants which included PGI faculty members, students and research scholars; members from NGOs; and health department functionaries from Haryana, Punjab and UT Chandigarh. Later, Dr Bang interacted in a small meeting of people working on tobacco and alcohol in the region, besides visiting the PGI De-addiction centre.