Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.
— Winston Churchill
Abhishek Swami, 25, visited a hospital during his lunch break. He was feeling dizzy during the presentation earlier, with the figures on the screen getting jumbled up before his eyes.
When his BP was measured, it was found to be 200/130, and the doctor in the emergency room immediately gave him medicines. On further enquiry, Swami shared that he had been getting severe headaches for a while, and easily lost his temper. He’d ignored these symptoms because he didn’t have time to visit the doctor. However, had a doctor been available over the phone, he could have sought her opinion and received more timely treatment.
The disease profile of young Indians has undergone a radical change. It has moved from communicable diseases to non-communicable (NCDs). According to WHO, in 60 percent cases, lifestyle is intimately related to the health and quality of life.
If you are like most Indians, you are eating unhealthy, smoking, drinking, sleeping fewer hours, and your stress level is shooting over the roof. The repercussions of such a lifestyle show up in illnesses like obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, cancer, degeneration of joints and hypertension. In almost all of these ailments, stress takes the centre stage, and you get a chance to notice it only when a brilliant life is abruptly cut short.
Like it happened with Ranjan Das, the youngest CEO of SAP India. He was 42 when he died of a massive heart attack. Das was a marathon runner!
How to build a virtuous circle of care?
With the changing dynamics of our disease profile, prevention needs to take a lead role in the healthcare eco-system, and the approach must be multidisciplinary. Different elements like spirituality, morality, medicine and technology have to converge together so that all of us stay at ease and distant from a ‘dis-ease’. In this virtuous circle of care, the focus will be on mitigating reasons that could lead to disease.
Spirituality, religion and stress relief
For a large number of people, stress comes from being in control. All the time.
Spirituality is an accepted antidote to stress. It coaches you to take things in your stride when life doesn’t go by your plan. Spirituality takes many forms. For some it is hatha yoga, for some mindfulness,while meditation or religion for a few others.
Essentially, spirituality is the art of letting go, taking one thing at a time or finding your moorings. It helps people unwind and loosen up.
In fact, a significant number of studies have demonstrated that people who believe in a deity have positive physiological changes. Hence, religion is often a great antidote to stress.
Healthy behaviour and morality
Is morality and good health linked?
While that’s a difficult question to answer, I believe that it is definitely linked to some extent, as it leads you to lead a conscientious life.
There are no set rules of morality but the heart occupies the centrestage in such people. Attributes such as kindness, compassion, care, and considerate behaviour guides them throughout their life which has positive repercussions on their interpersonal relationships.
Being good even in difficult circumstances tests your inner strength. Morality also defines a code of ethics that encourages you to stick to a monogamous relationship, truthful behaviour, gratefulness, and living within your means.
In the long run, this behaviour eliminates unnecessary stressors from your life, which are intimately linked to ill health.
Prevention is better than cure
The focus of medicine should move from cure to prevention. What if you could prevent the onset of diseases and nip it in the bud?
According to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 14.4 million kids in India are overweight. Not only do obese children have a greater likelihood of growing into obese adults, they also suffer from impaired glucose tolerance, like high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Encouraging healthy eating behaviour in kids during their growing years will help control obesity and prevent them from type-2 diabetes. For a 40+ adult, prevention implies regular health screenings, particularly of your blood pressure and blood sugar. Women should self-examine their breasts after learning the right technique from their gynaecologist.
Technology in healthcare
Technology has brought a paradigm shift in the way we live. And doctors don’t live on an island! An increasing number of doctors are linking up with patients via phone, email and webcam for a seamless experience in remote areas.
Cutting-edge technology has brought the world-class experience of a healthcare professional to the far-flung edges of the country, without moving the patient to city health centres.
Moreover, for people who research their health symptoms on the Internet, an online consultation is a lifesaver. It allows them to discuss their health conditions with the doctor without having to visit one.
In this virtuous circle of care, emphasis will be on collaboration. All these elements will synergise to foster good health, which in turn will benefit the country.
It’s a known fact that healthier individuals make an important contribution to economic progress, as they live longer and are more productive. Therefore, health is a necessary prerequisite for significant economic growth and we as a society should work towards fostering it.
Dr. Aditi Gupta Jha has been a practicing physician for over 6 years now, working at the emergency department of hospitals like Fortis and St. Philomena’s. She has completed her M.D and was awarded Doctor’s degree from Angeles University Foundation, Philippines. She is also the consulting physician & chief editor at JustDoc, a platform that connects patients with top doctors via online consultation