22 Jan 2014

Lifestyle Disease Education and Awareness Programme (LEAP)

A survey conducted recently by School Health Programme (an initiative of NRHM) among students in Kerala found that about 2.7 per cent of the 10 lakh children in Government schools are overweight and 0.8 per cent obese. The survey pointed its fingers to the life style diseases among youth, a threat our country needs to tackle in the coming decades. 

Lifestyle diseases like diabetes and cardio vascular diseases have now spread from urban regions to even rural and tribal areas of the country. Kerala which is known for its advances in health indicators, take no time to roll out a comprehensive programme to prevent life style diseases among school children in the State. Thus born the Lifestyle Disease Education and Awareness Programme (LEAP).

A Giant ‘LEAP’ for Mankind
            Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad inaugurated LEAP in the State which aims to control and prevent occurrence and prevalence of lifestyle diseases in school children through health education, life style modification and regular screening. The Programme is a joint initiative of the National Rural Health Mission and the State Departments of Health and Education. The new initiative will complement a peer programme titled ‘Amrutham, Arogyam’ for adults in the State. About 70 lakh adults were screened as a part of ‘Amrutham, Arogyam’ programme.

Changing Lifestyle and its Multiple Effects
            The World Health Assembly organized by World Health Organisation(WHO) in 2010 at Geneva cautioned in its report that non communicable diseases -mainly cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, kill nearly 35 million people per year.  The report also says that almost 90% of fatalities before the age of 60 occur in developing countries and are largely preventable. (Courtesy: WHO website)
            Unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, stress and excess use of junk food are the main causes that lead to lifestyle diseases at an early age. The cut-throat competition in academics forces students to distance themselves from sporting activities in and outside the school premises. India with its majority young population is more vulnerable to such non-communicable diseases.  

LEAP- An Introduction
            The LEAP initiative will help educate teachers and students on lifestyle diseases. Continuous awareness campaigns will be conducted across the schools as a part of this programme. Medical Officers, dietitians and other health workers will lead the classes which lay emphasis on healthy diet, exercise and good eating habits.
Main Objectives of LEAP:
·        Awareness classes for students and teachers on regular exercise and healthy diet.
·        Facilities for exercise at schools.
·        Encourage students to reach schools either by walking or by cycling.
·        Training for students in vegetable farm making and making healthy diet.
·        Encourage Yoga and Sports in Schools.
·        Regular screening of school students to identify lifestyle diseases.
·        Awareness among students regarding lifestyle disease control.

LEAP Action Plan
    Students will be screened by health workers and their details will be recorded.For every 2,500 students, a school health nurse is being appointed for this purpose. A list of students prone to lifestyle diseases will be made and special care will be availed to them. The Class teacher will keep the records of students and access the lifestyle diseases preventive measures. 
Each school will have a LEAP ambassador from the health club to help accelerate the activities. Model teachers have been identified from every school and they will be given training in yoga. Depending on number of students, there will be one or two in every school. Nutritional counselling will be given to the PTA by professional dieticians to create awareness.

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