WHENEVER any data on health / nutrition (or, lack of it) / mortality rate, etc is made public by the WHO (World Health Organisation) or any other national / global organisation, heated debates take place for some time. Organisations / NGOs that work in the field of health continue their work – some unnoticed and a few much publicised.
Health, deaths due to various communicable and non communicable diseases, nutrition issues, medical treatment and completion of the total treatment are important issues for any nation and especially for Bharat where the population has crossed 120 crore (approx one billion). Bharat has significant rural and urban sets of people. They many a times get a different type of medical facilities. If we have a quick glance at the available data ( provided by the WHO, Bharat’s Health Ministry through its NFHS (National Family Health Survey) Report or other organisations’ data, some significant issues are seen.
Non-communicable diseases like diabetes, raised blood pressure, kidney ailments and cancers cause two thirds of all deaths in the world including in Bharat. Heart and lung diseases mostly spring up because of diabetes, raised blood pressure and kidney ailments. Diabetes is the number one killer and current data of the WHO claims that 285 million people are suffering from diabetes and majority of deaths will be now due to diabetes. The nations that will get most affected by diabetes and related deaths: India, China, the US and Russia.
Important is that in the survey of 194 countries, the WHO has observed that despite such high rate of diabetes, BP, cancers and kidney ailments, the death rate in high income countries is less than the low income countries. This is not because the diseases are not there but the wide-spread diagnosis systems and low cost medication are available in high income countries whereas it is not so in the poor countries.
Bharat yet falls under low income category. Just see the availability of the diagnosis systems and low cost medication per government data in the NFHS Report of 2011: Total of all Primary Heath Cantres including all states: 23,236. Community Health Centres: 3,346. Doctors in PHC: 23,236 (seems blindly given by the government Centres are these many, so doctors are these many! One doctor per centre! One needs to check the reality.) Total health care workers including all states: 169,262.
This is when Bharat has over one billion population and multiple causes for health concern. While urban Bharat faces diabetes, raised BP, kidney ailments and cancers, along with such diseases, rural Bharat also faces communicable diseases and more seriously, malnutrition related deaths and diseases. In any case non-availability of timely diagnosis becomes the main culprit and therefore even the lack of low cost treatment follows.
This is the strange tragedy of Bharat. The nation that once ruled the health care and even today the world looks up to Bharat for effective sustained cure in many complicated chronic diseases. I am not referring only to yoga or Aayurved. They do play important role in Bharat’s health scene vis-à-vis the world, but Bharat has many such inbuilt systems for early diagnosis and treatments as part of daily routines. I am not getting into the debate of either or about Aayurved/Naturopathy and Allopathic treatment, etc.
Bharat needs to save youth, kids, women and all. Malnutrition, anaemia and related causes of deaths among women and kids have been a concern in Bharat. Even though food security can solve such problems to certain extent, timely medical attention is a must.
In urban area, stress related diseases like diabetes, raised BP, cancers and kidney ailments are main culprits. With nuclear families and ever growing costs of living, there is no way the stress will automatically reduce! Timely medical check-up nearby is a must from an early age – no more from 40 as earlier.
Setting-up exhaustive systems for widespread diagnostic centres to detect the disease even before it starts showing symptoms is the key to successful eradication of diabetes, raised BP, cancers and kidney ailments in urban areas and anaemia and malnutrition related diseases in rural areas.
After correct, early and expert diagnosis, then there comes a perfect timely treatment – low cost, affordable and available nearby. Bharat lacks even in this. Despite high unemployment among brilliant youth, there are not enough health facilitators in Bharat is paradoxical. But we all can transform the situation with the Local Community Diagnostic and Treatment Centres which can house experts in Allopathic systems, Aayurved, Naturopathy, Accupressure and other branches. These centres can also handle nutrition, correct food / medicines / dietary supplements, etc. There are corporate and government hospitals / pathology centres, etc in Bharat but they either are beyond the reach economically or distance-wise. There is also lack of awareness about proactive-health. There is sheer confusion about modern medicine and Bharat’s rich traditions of preventive/curative therapies. The total health centres that I am suggesting here can sort out these issues.
Who will bear the costs of such activities? The society at large, government (Union/States) and Corporates should jointly do such work which will create true heath for all. Only sloganeering does not help in handling diseases, nutrition and other health related issues. Active and positive participation of all is must beyond political and social aspects. This is not ‘I did it; you did not’ type of a matter. It is matter of nation’s life. Bharat has an edge over all other countries in handling health of its people and that is our ancient health systems. I am not ready to term them as ‘Alternative Therapies’; they are total therapies. The modern times have ‘created’ new, stronger viruses that do need immediate handling and that’s where Allopathic treatments can work hand-in-hand with our ancient health systems rather than treating the treatments as ‘either or’. This can create an excellent health model for Bharat which are ‘Integrated Health Systems’. Our rich knowledge in medicines / vitamins from herbs, roots, flowers, fruits, gou arka and meditation / Yog coupled with immediate modern surgeries can create a unique health model for Bharat.
There is no need to depend for the foreign pharmaceutical companies. Indian pharmaceutical companies making Allopathic medicines have excellent skills and expertise. All they need is government to reduce excess taxes and duties so they can make their medicines available to all at lower costs affordable to all. Bharat’s own ancient medicines and health systems too need exemption from rigid government taxes, duties and archaic laws where even gou arka is not exempted from VAT and other taxes!
Rather than all working in their own cocoons, if all health experts, all economists, sociologists and governments work in tandem through such Integrated Health Systems to truly achieve the goal of ‘Healthy Bharat’, then despite high prices and rat race urban Bharat will not face much diabetes, raised BP, cancer and kidney ailments and rural Bharat will be free of malnutrition and communicable diseases. It may sound utopian or too idealistic; but fortunately, such systems are possible in Bharat as Bharat has kind hearted medical professional ready to give own life for the nation, Bharat has social systems for people networking and Bharat aims big. Some of us have already embarked on such systems through a social movement ‘Dhanvantari Health Line’ and we have been getting excellent results.
(The writer can be contacted at [email protected])