A new project called Apnee Sehat (meaning “Our Health” in Punjabi) has been launched, with sponsorship from the pharmaceutical industry and from the Department of Health.

This ‘Pathfinder’ project is an integrated community programme and outpatient suite, targeted to address the needs for health education and access for South Asian communities in Coventry.

The Apnee Sehat programme, which has been commissioned by Coventry Primary Care Trust and part-funded by leading pharmaceutical companies and social enterprise grants will provide targeted assistance with lifestyle support. It is aimed at ‘hard-to-reach’ individuals in the South Asian community. Its aims are to work through educating people about risks and lifestyle choices and supporting behavioural changes to improve health outcomes, whilst at the same time remaining aware of religious and cultural sensitivities.

A Royal start
His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales was accompanied to the launch of Apnee Sehat by the newly appointed National Clinical Director for Diabetes, Dr Rowan Hillson, Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, and Dr Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer. At the same time the magazine Apna Health (meaning “Your Health” in Punjabi), which directly meets the needs of the extensive South Asian community within the UK through dietary advice including healthy GI (glycaemic index) recipes and lifestyle recommendations, was launched.

The South Asian population is generally at much higher risk of developing diabetes than the caucasian population, and is approximately 50 percent more likely to die prematurely from coronary heart disease. This can be prevented or managed by the uptake of a more positive approach to diet, exercise and wellbeing in some cases.

Apnee Sehat is a Department of Health Social Enterprise Pathfinder. The pathfinder programme provides financial support as well as access to wider support, for example business advice and training. Apnee Sehat has received £199,565 over the last two financial years. The programme is being independently evaluated and learning will be shared across health and social care, so that others can benefit from their experience.

Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance said, “the services provided by Apnee Sehat have already demonstrated through their pilots that integrated working and a holistic approach to education is essential to help to address the health inequalities that face the South Asian population.”

Dr Shirine Boardman, Consultant Diabetologist at Warwick Hospital and a Director of Apnee Sehat said, “this launch is yet another step to addressing inequalities of health provision for the South Asian community. The Apnee Sehat project has been sensitive to the experiences, traditions and beliefs of the target community inspiring a will to change and it has worked positively

“It is absolutely wonderful to be working with so many organisations coming together focusing their energies on solving some of the most difficult health inequalities in one of the most deprived inner cities in the UK, and strongly supported by the pharmaceutical industry in creating the joined up vision and energy to succeed!” Industry sponsors of the project include Merck Sharp & Dohme. sanofi-aventis, Novo Nordisk, Schering Plough and AstraZeneca.