“When a plant’s leaves are turning brown, you don’t paint the leaves green. You look at the cause of the problem. If only we treated our bodies the same way” ………. Dr. Frank Lipman
Since the mid-1980s, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has sought to define and encourage the implementation of concerted health promotion programmes that adopt a ‘setting-based’ approach. Recently, the literature has begun to identify the emerging role and function of the Health Promoting University (HPU) as another component of the settings-based movement.
Universities can play a major role to promote and protect the health of students and staff, to promote health promotion in teaching and research, and to promote the health of the community. The University Grants Commission (UGC) conducted the first National Consultation on Health Promoting Universities on February 28th, 2019.
Dr. Rajiv Yeravdekar, Dean-Faculty of Health & Biological Sciences, Symbiosis International (Deemed University) introduced the concept of Health Promoting Universities (HPU) during the round table consultation meet with vice chancellors of various universities.
Universities provide an ideal settings based approach. Like any other setting, Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs) have specific medical issues such as substance abuse, relationship problems, mental health issues such as depression etc. He mentioned that investment in wellbeing of staff, students and community at large is a win-win situation for all stakeholders which increases performance & productivity. If we are to reap the benefits of the much hyped demographic dividend of our young population, then we must act fast and target the youth; else the same will deteriorate in to a demographic disaster!
All stakeholders need to ‘Symbiose’ to implement the Health Promoting University Plan into action. Regulators like UGC & MHRD should lay down health policies. HEIs need to reorient the focus of health services from merely providing curative care to preventive health care. Students need to prioritise their own health.
Symbiosis International (Deemed University) in its quest of becoming a health promoting university undertakes numerous activities on a continued and ongoing basis such as having an on campus health centre, Recreation & Wellness Centre which provides gymnasium, aerobics, yoga and swimming pool facilities and other outdoor sports facilities. Every campus also has a counsellor. Campus Wellness Advisory Committee ensure stakeholder participation on various health related issues. Community connect is ensured through the Symbiosis Community Outreach Program & extension (SCOPE) initiative.