NEW DELHI: Health education may soon be part of school curriculum. The government of India, in an attempt to increase awareness about diseases and preventive measures, is mulling over introducing health education as a subject from Class VIII onwards, Dr Jagdish Prasad, the director general of health services, ministry of health and family welfare, said on Friday.
Prasad said that a team of experts from the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and health ministry are working to develop the course structure. “The syllabus is still being prepared and once that is done, we will take up the matter with the CBSE. It will be a compulsory subject and we would want kids to sit for exams,” he said. Prasad was addressing the India Diabetes Summit organized by The Times of India and Britannia in association with National Diabetes Obesity and Cholestrol (N-DOC) Foundation.
Anu Garg, joint secretary, ministry of health and family welfare; former Medical Council of India (MCI) chief Shiv Kumar Sarin; and NCERT joint director B K Tripathi were also present. Tripathi said non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer have become a bigger threat now unlike earlier when infections were the cause of maximum fatalities.
“Unhealthy food habits and lifestyle are the main cause for increase in disease burden. If children learn about healthy practices, preventive measures and have basic knowledge about the diseases, it can help in tackling the problem. Also, children then can become agents for dissemination of information to family members and their respective societies,” Tripathi said. In Delhi, about 18% of schoolchildren, between 10 and 14 years, are overweight and prone to various health problems such as high blood pressure, insulin resistant diabetes, cardiac problems, said experts.
Dr Anoop Misra, chairman of N-DOC said one person dies due to diabetes every 10 seconds in India and two new cases are reported in the same time. He said that many diabetics remain untreated due to lack of awareness and die due to complications such as heart disease and kidney problems caused by the disease.
India is home to over 61 million diabetic patients. By 2030, India’s diabetes burden is expected to cross the 100 million mark as against 87 million estimated earlier. Misra said, “Research is on to have new diagnostic techniques based on the genetic profiling of every individual patient for targeted therapy.”