A more sedentary life and a diet high in sugar have created public health problems in low-income countries - heart disease has become increasingly common in the population. To help prevent this development, researchers at the University of Skövde, Mid Sweden University and two Nepalese universities will examine existing knowledge among parents and school children in Nepal and develop a digital health education.
Recently, Alexandra Krettek, Professor of Public Health, School of Health Sciences at the University of Skövde, received a three-year research grant of SEK 4, 5 million from the Swedish Research Council. The project "Digital health promotion in schools – a serious games approach for cardiovascular health education in Nepal" is a collaboration between the University of Skövde, Mid Sweden University, Kathmandu Medical College and Patan Academy of Health Sciences. The purpose is to prevent illness and mortality in heart disease by focusing on health-promoting initiatives aimed at school going children.
Heart disease main cause of death
In low- and middle-income countries, 80% of deaths are lifestyle-related, with heart disease as the leading cause of death. Nepal is a low-income country, undergoing major changes in the structure of society as a result of increased industrialization. A more sedentary life and a diet with a larger amount of sugar and fat are new risk factors. At the same time, the knowledge of the population regarding lifestyle-related diseases and heart disease is limited.
- This is worrying, as heart disease takes many years to develop and is founded at an early age. The fact that children are also at risk makes it extra important to increase the general awareness at an early stage of the factors that contribute to a healthy life, says project leader Alexandra Krettek.
Mobile game will be developed for schools
The research project is well in line with Nepal's national plan to increase collaboration with schools to prevent and control heart disease. Over the next three years, the research team will conduct a cross-sectional study to examine existing knowledge in parents and school going children.
Thereafter, a first version of a digital instrument will be developed and pretested in schools. The instrument will be in the form of a game used on a mobile device. This effort will then be evaluated in terms of efficiency and economy. The idea is that the work will lead to a cheap and efficient way of working with digital health education.
- A three-year research grant from the Swedish Research Council gives us a unique opportunity to work long-term with this important issue. We will be able to make a clear mark for sustainable health development in Nepal. At the same time, we are creating cultural, intellectual and academic exchange between Sweden and Nepal that builds the capacity and competence of all participating researchers and research students, says Alexandra Krettek.
The project starts early 2021. Other participating researchers are Per Backlund (School of Informatics, University of Skövde), Koustuv Dalal (Mid Sweden University), Abhinav Vaidya and Natalia Oli (Kathmandu Medical College, Nepal) and Madhusudan Subedi (Patan Academy of Health Sciences , Nepal).