Dr. Upendra Bhojani was invited to be a member of a Technical Advisory Panel for the South Asian Regional Consortium Centre for Combating Tobacco (SARC-CCT), Colombo. Other members of the Technical Advisory Panel include Dr. Rana J Singh, Prof. Stella Bialous, Dr. Tara Singh Bam and Dr. Mary Assunta.
The SARC-CCT Technical Advisory Panel represents the regional and international experts who work in the tobacco control field, who are able to help advise and offer guidance to the SARC-CCT. This consortium has representatives from the South Asian states, including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, India & Sri Lanka. The consortium was first set up and inaugurated in July 2019 as a tobacco observatory, the main purpose of which is to monitor tobacco industry activities and implementation of FCTC Article 5.3 in the region of South Asia. The first meeting of the consortium was held on 30th July 2020 and is scheduled to occur once in three months.
A team from the Chronic Health Conditions and Public Policies cluster at IPH had undertaken a consultancy project with Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation and Salaam Bombay Foundation. This project involved the evaluation of the LifeFirst program, a standardized tobacco- and supari- cessation program conceived and implemented by the Salaam Bombay Foundation and Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation since 2012. The Program targets students studying in 7th to 9th grades in corporation (local government) funded/managed schools in Mumbai city.
The study design, a prospective quasi-experimental design, was conceptualised by researchers Upendra and Pragati at IPH and the program was implemented by the team in Mumbai. The analysis of the study data was led by Amiti with the support of Upendra and Pragati and we found that the program was indeed effective, where the program not only reduced the rates of tobacco and supari use significantly, but also served as a protective factor, protecting against new uptake of tobacco and supari use. This is an important finding: schools are an excellent site for health promotion activities but are rarely used as much as they should and furthermore, such school programs are rarely evaluated for their effectiveness. This collaborative study delivers on both, the health promotion program and the evaluation of this program. The present consultancy was closed with the completion of the project and submission of the final report. We look forward to further collaboration with the team at Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation & Salaam Bombay Foundation.