ASCEND training for NCD prevention to begin on July 29

Centre for Health Science Studies, the public health wing of Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology here, is hosting India’s first-of-its-kind training programme for health professionals.  The programme is being organised by Asian Collaboration for Excellence in Non-communicable Disease (ASCEND) Research Network with the aim of building a network of researchers across Asia to combat the growing epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCDs.)

The training programme is being driven by five internationally reputed institutions that form part of the ASCEND Network. Monash University, Malaysia; Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST); University of Colombo, Sri Lanka; Monash University, Australia and University of North Carolina are the key training institutes.

Dr PK Jameela, Director of Health Services, Government of Kerala will inaugurate the programme on July 29 at Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies (AMCHSS), 9 am., in the presence of a galaxy of health experts and researchers from different parts of the world. Dr R Sankar Kumar, Medical Superintendent, SCTIMST will deliver the presidential address.

Prof Brian Oldenburg, ASCEND Program Director, Monash University, Australia will present an overview of the programme. Dr Paul Sebastian, Director, Regional Cancer Centre here will deliver the keynote address on “Role of tobacco control in prevention and control of NCDs.”

Dr. KR Thankappan, ASCEND Program Director and Head of AMCHSS; Prof Mohammed Shajahan Yasin, ASCEND Program Director, Malaysia; Prof V Raman Kutty of AMCHSS and Dr. Chamil Senavirathne, ASCEND Network Coordinator, Sri Lanka will also speak on the occasion.

Prof Oldenburg said, “Non-communicable diseases including  cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer can direly threaten the well-being and quality of not just the affected people but also their families. The ray of hope in NCDs is that they can be prevented through a combination of policy and capacity building measures. The face-to-face training forms a part of specially designed 18-month programme that also harnesses online learning, peer support and mentoring methods to equip professionals on various aspects of NCD prevention.”

According to the World Health Organisation, 60 per cent of all deaths in the world are related to NCDs and more than 80 per cent of these deaths occur in low or middle income countries. NCD prevention can be achieved by addressing four common risk factors including tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and Dr Thankappan said, “Kerala is fast emerging as the NCD capital of the world. A recent study conducted by us has shown that Kerala has a high burden of NCD risk factors, comparable to that of the United States. We hope that the academic activity spurred through this training workshop will bring NCD prevention into the forefront Expert faculty members including Prof. Wah Yun Low, ASCEND Advisory Group Member and Editor-in-Chief of Asia Pacific Journal of Public Heath; Dr Indika Karunathilake and Dr Prasad Katulanda, both ASCEND Program Directors, Sri Lanka; Prof Oldenburg, Dr Thankappan and Prof. Shajahan Yasin will anchor the various sessions.

As many as 25 researchers and heath professionals from different Asian countries will participate in the training programme that will be on until August 3.

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