ProMIS interviewed Lucia Maria Lotrean, MD, PhD, coordinator on behalf of Aer Pur Romania of Young50 in Romania. She described in brief the activities and the results obtained during the Young50 project in Romania
Present your Young50 prevention programme results adapted in your country. Which are the main finding and lessons learn to give evidence?
The program was implemented in Romania by non-governmental organization Aer Pur Romania in cooperation with Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy from Cluj-Napoca, Romania and Public Health Directorate of Cluj County as well as several general practitioners (GPs) from Cluj county. The implementation of the program allowed the development based on the Italian examples of instruments and platforms for data collection and risk stratification for assessing behavioral and biological cardiovascular risk factors as well as the development of educational tools and materials for health promotion and cardio-vascular disease (CVD) prevention. It has been implemented in Cluj County, offering the possibility to perform screening and educational activities regarding cardio-vascular risk prevention for people aged 47-53 years of age, with important implications for their health and wellbeing. Moreover, it offered the possibility to gather data regarding alimentary habits and physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption, as well as biological risk factors (overweight/obesity, high blood pressure, dyslypidemia, hyperglycemia) and their correlations, in order to guide future activities and measures of health promotion in Romania.
The cooperation between academia, governmental and non-governmental organizations embraced by the program, contributed together with other activities/programs to the creation of a coalition which was recognized as Active and Healthy Aging Reference Site.
Which have been the problems incurred, the criticalities and the mitigations actions undertaken by your organization?
During the implementation of the project there were encountered several criticalities and we briefly present them, as well as mitigation actions performed by our organization:
- The pandemic of Covid-19 delayed and slowed down the implementation of the screening, but we started in September 2021 and continued to implement the program step by step with the help of several GPs from Cluj County, which allowed the performance of screening activities in their offices and being also actively involved in participant recruitment
- The target group was represented by people around the age of 50 years, in order to identify and prevent/decrease the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases at the time when it is still possible to prevent the CVDs. This age group is not easily reached, addressing less frequently the GPs offices, but there were made efforts by the project team and GPs to invite and motivate them to participate
- The screening for both behavioral risk factors through means of an complex questionnaire as well as medical risk factors was time consuming, but members of the project team from Aer Pur Romania and Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy (medical doctors and PhD students) performed the screening, the GPs being generally involved in patient recruitment
- We encountered the challenge of not having possibilities to send the participants to educational activities for healthy lifestyle promotion already in place, that’s why we also provided education, counseling, offering educational materials (personalized letters and leaflets) for healthy lifestyle promotion and prevention of cardio-vascular risk factors
How do you plan to integrate the Young50 experience and approach into your policy and sustainability plans?
The program was part of a long term and persistent preoccupation of Aer Pur Romania to influence, develop and evaluate measures, programs, activities for health promotion and disease prevention. Based on the screening instruments, educational materials, experience and networking stimulated by the program we intend to continue the implication of the non-governmental organization in the following:
- Implementation of health promotion activities for healthy lifestyle promotion across the life span and in different locations ( schools, workplaces, general population)
- Involvement in activities for prevention of cardio-vascular risk factors among different population groups, not only the age group of 50 years of age
- Stimulating the continuation of cooperation with academia and governmental organizations, in order to shape training of young health care professionals in the field of health promotion and tobacco control, development of joint research and health promotion programs, advocacy for measures which stimulate healthy and active aging, with a special focus on chronic disease prevention
- Analyses and dissemination of data gathered during the project YOUNG50 to the scientific community, stakeholders and general population, including the contribution of the work/data collection performed during the project for finalization of two PhD thesis