building India’s largest network of health promoting schools

Priya Prakash and her team have been visiting schools around India since 2016. With the help of a team of qualified doctors, they offer e-health check-ups to assess children for more than 90 health parameters including weight, height, eye and dental checks . Parents and children can track the results online on an e-health platform and app and receive personalized health recommendations.

Students from these schools are also encouraged to join and lead wellness clubs or engage in special modules such as the 21-day challenge encouraging children to build health and hygiene skills. Each enrolled student additionally benefits from a yearly US$ 1600 insurance cover, and HealthSetGo directly supports health centers in selected schools with medical staff.

A young person presenting surrounded by a group of lookers

Priya Prakash is the founder and CEO of HealthSetGo, a school-based, data-driven health program incorporating student leadership and innovative financing. Some 14.4 million children reportedly live with obesity in India. Of the more than 200 000 schools in the country, fewer than 2% have a health programme. Often, schools also lack the capacity, the know-how and the financial resources to promote healthier lifestyles, and educate young people on health risks, such as obesity and mental health issues.

“When I was a student, I was struggling with my health. I found it hard to access health information at school or from home”, she recounts. “With 400 million school children in India and many schools being run privately, I later realized there is a tremendous opportunity and a sustainable market to combine preventive health screening, education and insurance into an attractive package for students, families, and schools, and make health an integral aspect of children’s lives.”

A doctor carrying out an assessment on his patient

Since its launch in 2016, HealthSetGo has made preventive health services and health education affordable and accessible for over 250 000 students in nearly 80 Indian cities. The program partners with schools and with teams of doctors to provide health check-ups, raise awareness on healthy lifestyles and sometimes provide medical staff in selected schools.

A group of children running a race

The project demonstrates how local, community-driven innovations that address NCD risk factors can be scaled to subnational and national levels to have a major impact in low- and middle-income settings.

Priya and her team are working to enrol 1 million students for HealthSetGo by 2024, and aim to reach 10 million students by 2030.

Read more about this 2022 NCD Lab project winner in the category “The Next Generation.

Addressing obesity and non-communicable diseases though grassroots innovation

More than a billion people worldwide are living with obesity. They are at higher risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke and cancer, and are also more likely to experience mental health issues.

The global rise in obesity particularly affects low- and middle-income countries, where the number of people living with obesity has doubled since 2010. Responding to these alarming trends, WHO’s Acceleration Plan to STOP Obesity supports countries in preventing and managing obesity throughout the life course, including through fiscal policies, regulations on food and beverage marketing, food labeling and public education and awareness.

The NCD Lab is a platform launched by WHO’s Global Coordination Mechanism on NCDs (GCM/NCD) to crowdsource and promote grassroots innovation for NCD prevention and control. Accounting for local context and building on strong community ownership, bottom-up health initiatives often prove highly effective and have the potential to scale.