mHealth Initiative Aims to Prevent Diabetes in India

An SMS-based health awareness campaign underway in India has received a new participant, the diversified health care benefits company Aetna. Led by the non-profit Arogya World and supported by a consortium of organisations, the mHealth initiative aims to reach one million consumers via mobile text messages over two years in order to raise awareness about diabetes and its prevention.

“Diabetes is on the rise around the world, including India where one report estimates that some 40 million Indians are already diabetic. That number is expected to reach 73.5 million by 2025,” said Sandip Patel, head of Aetna International. “We want to help people around the world live healthier lives. Prevention is the most important way to fight non-communicable diseases like diabetes, which have a high cost on chronically ill people and society in general.”

“We must both promote wellness and prevention through lifestyle and quality medical care to detect illness before serious medical intervention is required. Aetna’s experience has demonstrated that cost associated with early detection and disease management is far outweighed by the cost of acute, often emergency, inpatient hospital treatment. We believe this mHealth program will be instrumental in bringing about sustainable social change,” added Patel.

Aetna is supporting the program in three ways by making a financial contribution to fund the effort, serving on the consortium’s advisory committee, and providing health care experience. Aetna will provide insights into disease management, wellness and data analytics techniques based upon its deep experience and successes in these areas.

The program is one of the first nationwide diabetes mHealth initiatives in a developing country. The consortium is led by Arogya World and also includes Nokia, which is providing support and special technology platforms on its mobile phones, Emory University, Synovate, Biocon and LifeScan, Inc.

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