One Million Teenagers pave the way for a healthier India

As India’s economy continues develop, her population is undergoing a rapid health transition, with chronic diseases and injury already established as the leading causes of morbidity and premature mortality.

Among India’s adolescents, comprising almost one-quarter of the country’s population, mental illness and injury are particularly prevalent health problems.  In addition, many of the predisposing behaviours, risk factors for and early manifestations of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases are established in this age group, contributing to extraordinarily high rates of chronic disease being observed in young Indian adults.

To date, most studies involving Indian teenagers have focused primarily on communicable conditions and reproductive health, with few data available to understand chronic disease and injury risks in this population and opportunities to impact on these conditions.

Indian policy-makers face significant challenges to improve the health system for both urban and rural dwelling Indians alike. A lack of evidence to demonstrate the scope and nature of the heath landscape coupled with an  primary health care system ill-equipped to focus on prevention of chronic diseases further compounds the challenge that India faces.

To tackle this challenge The George Institute’s Million Teenagers study, aims to recruit one million teenagers into a study to determine the health conditions of Indian teenagers which will allow research to also predict the likely future health burden that the country is likely to face. Researchers will follow-up with participants every five years with researchers utilising a range of incentivised retention and social marketing techniques to retain participants in the study. The result will be a ‘health map’ that will provide policy makers with the ability to dedicate current and future resources for generations of Indians.

The study was officially launched in October, 2010 at the book launch of one of the Institute’s Board Directors, Peter Church, entitled, “Added Value: The Life Stories of Indian Business Leaders”. Associate Professor Anushka Patel gave guests a first glimpse of the ambitious project which has the potential to become the world’s foremost health study of young Indians.