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Evidence-Based Traditional Medicine, Yoga, Meditation Can Help Control Chronic Diseases™

The three-day World NCD Congress, which concluded at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI, for short) in Chandigarh on Monday, has called upon the global community to promote evidence based traditional systems of medicine, and internationally recognized health promotional activities such as yoga, meditation etc, at various levels of the health care system for prevention and control of non communicable diseases (NCDs).

Considering that NCDs, principally cardio-vascular diseases, cancers, stroke, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, have overtaken communicable diseases as the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, a consensus  statement adopted at the conclusion of the Congress, named “Chandigarh Call For Action On Sustainable Development in Combating Global Epidemic Of Non Communicable Diseases”, also urged the global community to raise the priority of non communicable diseases on the national and international/global health and development agenda.

Evidence-Based Traditional Medicine, Yoga, Meditation Can Help Control Chronic Diseases™, Lifeinchd

Photo By: Life in Chandigarh

It further stressed on mobilizing additional resources and supporting innovative initiatives for financing health promotion and prevention and control of NCDs.

Jointly organized by the World NCD Federation, PGI Chandigarh and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, from November 4 to 6, the Congress, which attracted 1800 participants from across the world,  recommended that the health workforce at all levels of the health systems be equipped with the skills needed for NCD prevention and care, facilitation of sharing of new research findings and best practices across the globe about prevention, health promotion and control of NCDs and their risk factors, and improving access to essential medicine and basic technologies. It also advocated establishment of National institutes of NCDs in all countries.

Recognizing the fact that mental, behavioral and substance abuse disorders are important contributors to the burden of NCDs, the participants at the Congress expressed conce that the rising burden of NCDs is putting a strain on the already compromised healthcare systems in developing countries and the overall cost of diagnosis and management of NCDs are impoverishing individuals, communities and nations.

The Congress pointed out that the burden of NCDs is projected to escalate in the future due to changing lifestyle, population ageing, trade and intensive marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages, poor hygienic conditions and changing dietary patterns of the global population with increasing energy intake and reducing physical activity as a result of rapid and unplanned urbanization in the developing countries.

Noting that the major NCDs are linked to common risk factors, namely tobacco use in all forms, unhealthy diet (especially high consumption of fats, salt and sugar, physical inactivity), obesity, harmful use of alcohol and stress, the participants felt that the world community should be aware that these factors have economic, social, political and environmental determinants and hence require a multi-pronged and multi-sectoral response.

It acknowledged the roles of multiple stakeholders/partners including the government, civil society, academia, pharma sector, researchers, professional associations/organizations, sectors outside health and the private sector (excluding tobacco interests) as being vital for prevention and control of NCDs.

The participants at the Congress noted that practice of yoga could be an essential part of mental health program and lifestyle intervention in all NCDs. They also sought a substantial increase in the budgets of respective countries for health promotion, screening (for early detection), surveillance, management and control of NCDs. For this the strengthening of primary healthcare system and introduction of community based approaches are critical to make them more responsive to NCDs.

Emphasising the need to integrate the promotion and protection of human rights into national NCD policies, the participants felt the need of the hour is to ensure due attention is paid to girls, women, adolescents, orphans, children, older people, migrants and people affected by humanitarian emergencies, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities, depending on local circumstances.

Among other recommendations of the Congress are promoting use of information technologies like tele-medicine and mhealth (mobile health, for public awareness) to improve access of NCD services, promoting and strengthening communication between AYUSH and conventional medicine for control and prevention of NCDs and developing and implementing standard integrative clinical guidelines/protocols incorporating evidence based Ayurveda and Yoga. These integrations may be developed, validated, disseminated and adopted for primary and secondary prevention of NCDs and holistic healthcare of patients, it felt.

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