Nutritional deficiency should be addressed at a young age

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community Comments Off

Inadequacy of vitamins and minerals can directly hamper the immune system

New Delhi, 19 April 2019: As per a new study titled Inadequate zinc intake in India: past, present and future, rising carbon dioxide levels can accelerate zinc deficiency in crops and thus in human consumption. It states that inadequate zinc intake has been rising in India for decades, causing tens of millions of people to become newly deficient in it. The highest rate of inadequate zinc intake is concentrated mainly in the southern and northeastern states with rice-dominated diets: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya.

Zinc has a critical role to play in the human immune system. Inadequate levels of zinc can result in serious health consequences, particularly in young children, who are more susceptible to malaria, diarrheal diseases, and pneumonia.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Micronutrient deficiencies or deficiencies of vitamins and minerals, often referred to as hidden hunger mainly due to diets inadequate in fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains and millets, are not apparent but considered ubiquitous. The primary reason for this deficiency is the availability of foods rich in carbs, sugars and fats, but lacking in vital vitamins and minerals. This is also aggravated by the fact that the consumption of junk food is increasing among educated, wealthier households in India. Although any individual can experience micronutrient deficiency, pregnant women and children are at greatest risk of developing deficiencies.”

NIN recommends consumption of 400 grams of fruit and vegetable per day for normal people, of which 100 grams should be fruit. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of micronutrients and egg, milk as well as flesh foods are also good sources.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Even home-cooked food can be deficient in nutrients. This is because we tend to cook and over-cook a lot of dishes as part of their preparation. Micronutrient deficiency is an issue that does not have an easy solution. The best way out is to get maximum nutrition from raw fruits and vegetables and forego a processed food diet.”

Schools can help in shaping the lives of students and have a very important role to play in the battle against nutritional deficiencies. Healthy habits in childhood lay a foundation for a healthier adulthood. Some helpful habits entail eating a healthy balanced diet. All the four major food groups including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and dairy should form a part of a child’s diet plan.

Some rich sources of zinc

  • For those who consume non-vegetarian food, fish is an excellent source of zinc. Meat and poultry are other options. Eggs also contain a good amount of zinc.
  • For vegetarians, the best options include a handful of nuts in their daily diet. These can be a mix of walnuts, almonds, cashews and other dry fruits and nuts.
  • Other food items to supplement daily zinc requirement include legumes, whole grains and dairy products.

Digital health technology as an aid towards universal health coverage

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its first guideline on the use of digital health interventions via mobile phones, tablets and computers.

The guideline has also defined some of the terms in common use today such as digital health, eHealth, mHealth.

eHealth is “the use of information and communications technology in support of health and health-related fields”.

mHealth or mobile health is “the use of mobile wireless technologies for health”. It is a subset of eHealth.

Digital health is “the use of digital technologies for health” and is “a broad umbrella term encompassing eHealth (which includes mHealth), as well as emerging areas, such as the use of advanced computing sciences in ‘big data’, genomics and artificial intelligence”.

WHO has identified 10 ways by which digital technology can be harnessed to improve people’s health and essential services. The key recommendations include:

  1. Birth notification via mobile devices: To be used in settings where the notifications provide individual-level data to the health system and/or a civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system, and the health system and/or CRVS system has the capacity to respond to the notifications.
  2. Death notification via mobile devices:To be used in the context of rigorous research, in settings where the notifications provide individual-level data to the health system and/or a CRVS system, and the health system and/or CRVS system has the capacity to respond to the notifications.
  3. Stock notification and commodity management via mobile devices:To be used in settings where supply chain management systems have the capacity to respond in a timely and appropriate manner to the stock notifications.
  4. Client-to-provider telemedicine:To be used to complement, rather than replace, the delivery of health services and in settings where patient safety, privacy, traceability, accountability and security can be monitored.
  5. Provider-to-provider telemedicine:To be used in settings where patient safety, privacy, traceability, accountability and security can be monitored
  6. Targeted client communication via mobile devices:To be used for health issues regarding sexual, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health under the condition that potential concerns about sensitive content and data privacy can be addressed
  7. Health worker decision support via mobile devices:To be used for community and facility-based health workers in the context of tasks that are already defined within the scope of practice for the health worker.
  8. Digital tracking of clients’ health status and services combined with decision support:To be used in settings where the health system can support the implementation of these intervention components in an integrated manner; and for tasks that are already defined as within the scope of practice for the health worker.
  9. Digital tracking combined with (a) health care worker decision support and (b) targeted client communication:To be used where the health system can support the implementation of these intervention components in an integrated manner, for tasks that are already defined as within the scope of practice for the health worker; and where potential concerns about data privacy and transmitting sensitive content to clients can be addressed.
  10. Digital provision of training and educational content to health workers via mobile devices/mobile learning (mLearning):To be used to complement, rather than replace, traditional methods of delivering continued health education and post-certification training.

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Past National President IMA