India is in the midst of an epidemic of non-communicable diseases. These diseases include conditions such as heart attacks, strokes (paralysis), kidney failure, cancer and mental diseases. Suffering due to these conditions is growing exponentially. Heart attacks, breathing disorders (also known as COPD) and stroke (paralysis) are the three leading causes of death in India now. This is in stark contrast to 1990, when diarrhea and lung infections (pneumonia and tuberculosis) were the leading causes of death. This increase is largely driven by the increasing prevalence of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, high cholesterol and smoking. When these four conditions stay untreated for many years, they results in heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure, leading to an untimely death for many people.


However, if we identify people with these conditions and treat them in a timely and effective manner, it can result in a drastic reduction in the amount of death and suffering. As an example, in the early 1970s, nearly 450 out of every 100,000 people in the United States were dying from heart attacks, strokes and related diseases. Today, that number stands at 125, a more than 70% reduction. Other developed countries have experienced similar results.


It is widely believed that more than 50% of the reduction in heart disease and stroke related deaths in developed countries was due to widespread and effective treatment of smoking, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and high cholesterol. This reduction also has other beneficial effects, such as reduction of cancer, kidney failure (>60% of kidney failure is due to hypertension and diabetes) and diabetes related complications such as amputations and blindness.

India currently has abysmal rates of effective treatment for risk factors, with control rates averaging <10-15%. Through the SEHAT model, we aim to set up programs that lead to better control of Hypertension and Diabetes, get people to quit tobacco use and improve mental health. This will result in a decrease in deaths from cancer, heart diseases, strokes, kidney failure and related conditions. It will also lead to an improvement in the overall quality of life, leading to more joyful and productive lives for many.