'HealthSetGo' Priya Prakash founder wins Cisco Youth Leadership Award 2019

Priya Prakash on why Rs 1 on preventive care saves I 1,000 in treatment 
(Centre) Priya Prakash recently received the Cisco Youth Leadership Award for 2019 from (left) American singer-songwriter Jason Derulo and (right) Vice President and Cisco’s Chief People Officer Fran Katsoudas at the Royal Albert Hall, London
(Centre) Priya Prakash recently received the Cisco Youth Leadership Award for 2019 from (left) American singer-songwriter Jason Derulo and (right) Vice President and Cisco’s Chief People Officer Fran Katsoudas at the Royal Albert Hall, London

NEW DELHI:  Gurgaon resident Priya Prakash, Founder of healthcare start-up HealthSetGo, recently won the coveted Cisco Youth Leadership Award 2019 at the Global Citizen Prize awards, at Royal Albert Hall, London. HealthSetGo holds check-up camps at schools throughout India catering to all strata of society to detect/diagnose any disease, and even administers vaccinations.

A formal ‘health report card’ containing the child’s health information is then presented to the parents. In the last three years, this system has benefited over two lakh students. “The award is an enormous motivation to forge ahead and help fill a critical gap in the healthcare needs of our children. Now, I am sure that our commitment of impacting one million children by 2023, can be achieved even sooner,” the 26-year-old had said while receiving the award. In a long chat with The Sunday Standard, Prakash talks about how HealthSetGo is working hard towards creating a health revolution for the country’s children:

Why did you set up HealthSetGo?

Working parents in nuclear families and lack of health awareness has left India with millions of obese children. I was one of them – struggling with my mental/physical health and getting bullied at school for it. It impacted my self-esteem and academic performance. I struggled with obesity and an eating disorder, which put me in an abusive relationship with my body that took me years to come out of. So, I wanted to start a program to give young children a direction to start their health journey. I don’t want any other child to go through what I did. Further, getting to know the patient-care system – how it works, how patients are churned out at unheard of rates – strengthened my resolve to work with children. Hence Health- SetGo was born. I believe `1 spent on preventive care saves `1,000 in treatment.

What challenges did you face?

The biggest challenge was and is to make health relevant in the minds of educators and parents. In India, parents show love through food and each festivity is associated with sweets. Diabetic people will take an insulin shot but still eat that chocolate cake. Being unhealthy, in other words, is celebrated. Coupled with this is aggressive advertising and marketing around sugar laden, processed foods for kids. Childhood Obesity as an epidemic in India, and educating people on this is a huge task. Further, there is an aversion towards spending on preventive health.

Where did we slacken/fail in providing perfect healthcare to kids?

On one hand, sugar and fried food has become a reward system from parents and society for children when they achieve smaller goals. On the other, there is no stress on importance of health beyond hygiene. Non communicable diseases are lifestyle diseases. A balance diet and no consumption of tobacco and alcohol can greatly reduce the chances of falling prey to one. Any case in point you would like to mention? Over the past three years we have detected cases of severe tooth decay and weak eyesight, abnormal heart sounds, neurological symptoms and severe anaemia. One story that stands out for me is the one wherein we were able to detect a heart murmur in a child through the medical check-up.

The child’s parents and the principal were shocked to know that. The student is now thankfully undergoing treatment and is safe. How many schools do you cater to? What are the future plans? We cater to over 200 private schools in 70 cities all over the country. Some of them are The Shri Ram Millennium Schools, Pathways Schools, Narayana Group of Schools, Mussoorie International School, etc. We cater to schools in all geographies – metro cities to remote areas.

We have worked with the Tirupati and Vizag Smart Cities Mission to execute our CARE program through which we provided medical check-ups and education curriculum at several government schools in these districts. We wish to expand our program to help as many children as possible and the government is a key resource in enabling that.

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