The NUMS Department of Public Health conducted a school and community-based awareness campaign promoting healthier people and planet, ‘ACT on NCDs: Healthy Habits and Climate Action for a Sustainable Planet’. The campaign highlighted the importance of healthy habits  and clean air benefits to overall planetary health. The two-week awareness drive started on 15th August 2022, focussed to encourage healthy behaviours and influence norms across diverse social strata. The students of Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH) shared their unique perspectives and messages about the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) linking it with climate change through pamphlet distribution in Urdu and English languages in the middle-aged population of PWD residential area. NCDs are affected by climate change, urbanization, food systems, and energy generation systems, action in these sectors will benefit not only the population but also planetary health. The key messages of the campaign encompassed: healthy diet (fresh natural foods); regular physical exercise and maintain a healthy weight; reduce sugary drinks,  saturated fats and salt intake; don’t smoke; plant trees; save energy and use eco-friendly products; reduce, reuse, repair and recycle. The students used multiple awareness-raising strategies, methods, and tools to promote health and to influence public opinion.

 Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) have implications for nutrition, education, and the environment; therefore, a greater action is needed from governments and communities to prevent them from becoming epidemics. Children, adults, and the elderly all are vulnerable to the risk factors contributing to NCDs, whether from unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, exposure to tobacco smoke, the harmful use of alcohol or climate change. NCDs are a barrier to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), reducing the NCD burden and working towards sustainable cities create opportunities to achieve the  following SDGs: SDG 1, SDG 2, SDG 3, SDG 4, SDG 11, SDG 12, SDG 13,  SDG14, and SDG 15.

The students’ awareness drive  in the local schools of Rawalpindi started from, ‘Benchmark School System’ followed by  ‘Future World School System’ under the supervision of Dr.Hina Shan, Assistant Professor, DPH and students; Miss Iffa Zahid & Mr. Waleed Sheikh (focal persons). Latest statistics on NCDs and its link with climate change, risk factors, and  preventive measures were  shared by the following BSPH students; Waleed Sheikh, Iffa Zahid, Hasnain Sabir,  Shalina Mazhar, Fatima Saleem, Shahaan Chughtai, , Aimen Adnan, Shiza Aftab and Daniyal Ahmed. Students also disseminated information about the SDGs to build ownership of the 2030 Agenda. School children actively participated in the campaign with interactive session involving games  around NCDs and SDGs, #FlipTheSrcipt and #ACT4SDGs. Miss Iffa Zahid  and Shiza Aftab shared messages on NCDs as ‘Voices of Change’ for NCD Alliance’s Platform.

The Head of the Department, Prof Dr. Uzma Hassan stressed on the need to improve individual well-being with lifestyle modifications, highlighting that behaviors that lead to NCDs often emerge during childhood. She congratulated the DPH team (Dr. Tamkeen Jaffry, Dr. Hina Shan, Dr. Raima Asif, Miss Rubab Zulfiqar and students) for enhancing NUMS mission by conducting a successful campaign.

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