Better health increases age: World Health Day

Special on World Health Day
In India, population more than 60 years of age in 2001 was 6.9% which is now increased to 8.3% (2011) and is estimated to be 17% (30 crores) by 2050. If today’s young India is not made healthy then in future these would suffer from large number of diseases in their older age. It’s true that neonatal and child mortality rate is decreasing and life expectancy is increasing and therefore the population of elderly is also on rise.

World Health Organization was established on 7th April 1948 with the aim of providing health to all. This may be the reason that definition of health by World Health Organization not only includes physical health but also mental and spiritual wellbeing. This year (2012) the theme of World Health day is “INCREASING AGE AND HEALTH” and their slogan is “BETTER HEALTH INCREASES AGE”. 

Diseases which used to occur in old age are now increasing in younger age group e.g. Diseases related to life style like diabetes, blood pressure, heart attack, stroke ,cancer ,obesity, bronchitis, stress, depression etc. this is a dangerous sign. Usually these diseases occur after the age of 40 years but due the modern life style, these are now seen in 25-30 years of age. Our country is becoming world’s capital as for as tuberculosis, cancer, asthma, diabetes blood pressure, heart diseases, stress, depression and road traffic accidents are concerned. In India prevalence of hypertension is about 10 crores diabetes is 8 crores, asthma and COPD combined is five crores and tuberculosis is 2 crores. Many people are suffering from more than two diseases simultaneously.

Health related contradictions are also seen in our country. We are not able to control infective disease like tuberculosis diarrhea , malaria, filaria, influenza and Japanese encephalitis and on the other hand diseases related to western life style like obesity, diabetes, blood pressure, asthma, COPD, cancer, cardiac diseases, stroke, obstructive sleep apnea etc are on rise. Shortage of trained doctors and paramedical staff with weak infrastructure are also big hurdles. Above all poverty, malnutrition, anemia are giving arise to infectious and communicable diseases.

It’s true that health programmes related to few diseases seems to have controlled their spread example polio and AIDS. But diseases like tuberculosis, inspite of an adequate National program is not controlled and is converting into more dangerous forms like MDR and XDR/TDR.

In India one hand communicable diseases are not controlled and on the other hand increasing competition, sedentary life style, computers, television, fast food, unsafe traffic , smoking and other addictions are also giving arise to many disease.

Tobacco, Pan Masala and smoking are related to about 40 types of cancer and about 25 other disease. Every year tobacco and it’s product are causing 54 lacs death world wide and 10 lacs in India . we should congratulate Madhya Pradesh Government for banning tobacco and Pan Masala on 31 march 2012. Ban on tobacco has a false perception that it leads to decrease in government’s funds. According to a survey done by Indian Council of Medical Research, every year Indian government raises funds of rupees 24 thousand crores by tobacco and related products and on the other hand pays 27 thousand crores on tobacco related three main diseases.

How to Make India Healthy 
If India is to make healthy, then multifactorial solutions have to be searched for multiple problems.
First of all we had to pay attention towards population control.  Secondly to make and implement health infrastructure. We had to increase skilled doctors and paramedical staff. People had to be awared as diseases related to life style can only be prevented by making them aware like haven active life style, do yoga and exercises on regular bases. We have to stop the western fast food culture, have a proper balanced diet, have safe traffic conditions, avoid smoking and other addictions. Communicable diseases have to be controlled on priority bases. Apart from these, political commitment for save drinking water and nutritious diet had to be made. 

Professor (Dr) Surya Kant
(The author is the Professor and Head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University - CSMMU; and Chairman of Indian Chest Society, Northern region)

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