Access to quality and timely healthcare continues to elude Indians

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

A stringent and comprehensive policy that addresses varied aspects of healthcare delivery is the need of the hour

New Delhi, 23 May 2018: As per a recent study by Lancet, India ranks 145th among 195 countries in terms of quality and accessibility of healthcare, behind its neighbors like China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan. Although India’s improvements on the healthcare access and quality (HAQ) index hastened from 2000 to 2016, the gap between the country’s highest and lowest scores widened (23•4-point difference in 1990, and 30•8-point difference in 2016).
India also performed poorly in tackling cases of tuberculosis, rheumatic heart diseases, ischemic heart diseases, stroke, testicular cancer, colon cancer, and chronic kidney disease among others. There are also large disparities in subnational levels of personal HAQ in several countries, especially China and India.
Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Healthcare is not an electoral issue in India and government investment in public health has been very poor – at just about 4.7% of its GDP. Access to quality and timely healthcare is a universal right. However, many Indians, especially those below the poverty line, are unaware of this very right. There are hospitals where BPL families can avail treatment at no cost. But the fact that there is no redressal mechanism to make the aware of these options exacerbates the problem and they end up paying out of their pockets. Then there are issues such as poor management, corruption, accountability, and ethics which compound the problem. States such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala can serve as examples. In these, health services are part of the electoral mandate, and therefore, the quality of services is better.”
Part IV of the Constitution of India talks about the Directive Principles of State Policy. Article 47 under part IV lists the “Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health”.
Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President of CMAAO, said, “The need of the hour is an urgently integrated action on health care to make it universally accessible and affordable at the same time. This will not only help address the health needs but also have a positive effect on poverty and growth levels. A strategy that makes citizens more competitive and act as an asset to the country’s growth is what is required at this juncture.”
While the demand for access to better and quality healthcare services continues, each one of us has a responsibility to take care of ourselves.
• Develop healthy habits including eating, sleeping, and exercising right.
• Do not overdo anything. From drinking to using the cell phone, everything must be in moderation.
• Follow ancient wisdom. Do Yoga and Meditation for your mental and spiritual wellbeing and maintain equilibrium. Allow your body to heal itself.
• Get periodic checkups done. Early detection of most health problems can help in correcting lifestyles to slow the degeneration process and lead a longer and healthier life.
• Both active and passive smoking are harmful for the body. In addition, manage your blood cholesterol, blood pressure as well as diabetes and maintain optimum weight. Limit your salt intake.

About 90% of strokes can be prevented with lifestyle changes

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

Provided timely action is taken, a stroke can leave a person with permanent disabilities

New Delhi, 18 May 2018: Statistics indicate that 15% of all strokes are caused by hemorrhagic stroke when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, leading to permanent damage. While all people with acute stroke benefit from treatment on a stroke unit, there is currently no specific treatment for hemorrhagic stroke and unfortunately many people affected will die within a few days.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when blood from an artery begins bleeding into the brain. Pressure from the leaked blood damages brains cells, and, as a result, the damaged area is unable to function properly.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “There are two types of weakened blood vessels that can cause hemorrhagic stroke: aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). An aneurysm is a ballooning of a weakened region of a blood vessel. If left untreated, the aneurysm continues to weaken until it ruptures and bleeds into the brain. AVM, on the other hand, is a cluster of abnormally formed blood vessels. Any one of these vessels can rupture, also causing bleeding into the brain. It is important to treat strokes as quickly as possible. With a hemorrhagic stroke, the first steps are to find the cause of bleeding in the brain and then control it. Surgery may be needed. Post-stroke rehabilitation can help people overcome disabilities caused by stroke damage.”

Some symptoms of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body); confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding speech; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and severe headache with no known cause.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “Two main causes for hemorrhagic strokes include uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) and overtreatment with anticoagulants (blood thinners). Apart from this, it is also important to manage certain lifestyle-based risk factors such as obesity, inactivity, consumption of alcohol, and use of drugs. Depending upon the duration for which the brain lacks blood flow and which part was affected, a stroke can even cause permanent disabilities.”

Some tips from HCFI.

Stroke is preventable. About 90% of strokes are associated with 10 risks factors that are modifiable.

Control high blood pressure
Do moderate exercise 5 times a week
Eat a healthy balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in sodium
Reduce your cholesterol
Maintain a healthy BMI or waist-to-hip ratio
Stop smoking and avoid second hand exposure
Reduce alcohol intake
Identify and treat atrial fibrillation
Reduce your risk from diabetes talk to your doctor
Get educated about stroke

Incessant noise can disrupt the body at a cellular level

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

Noise is recognized environmental stressor and can exacerbate certain existing health conditions

New Delhi, 16 May 2018: According to a review of the underlying mechanisms that lead to noise-induced heart disease, environmental noise from traffic and aircraft disrupts the body on the cellular level to raise heart disease risk factors. Sound pollution can cause metabolic abnormalities and autonomic imbalance, characterized by dizziness and exercise intolerance. Exposure to this noise can also lead to behavioral issues in children.

Dust mixed with toxic fumes from vehicular exhausts can exacerbate lung and heart diseases and trigger death from heart attack, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung infections like pneumonia, and cancers of the lung and respiratory tract.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, ” Noise is an unwanted intrusive sound. A loud noise is 85 db or higher, or if a person has to raise his/her voice to speak with someone standing at a distance of 3 feet. Noise is a recognized environmental stressor, which has both physiological and psychological effects. It is associated with anxiety, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, insomnia, annoyance, stress. Progressive hearing loss may result from continuous and repeated exposure to loud noise. The safe limit for sounds at 85 db or less is 8 hours of exposure. Loud noise affects speech intelligibility and consequently work performance and increases chances of errors. Conversation has to be conducted at higher dbs for clear speech communication because of noise interference.”

People living in areas with high traffic noise are also 25% more likely than those in quieter neighborhoods to have symptoms of depression such as sadness, loneliness and trouble concentrating.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “Hospitals are noisy work places. Control of noise levels is very important in hospitals for patient well-being and healing. Noise creates an unhealthy work environment for doctors. It affects concentration and increases the chances of mistakes, which can be costly for the doctors and hospitals. Inability to hear the warning patient monitoring alarm over the general background noise in an ICU may have potentially disastrous outcome. Moreover, doctors too are prone to develop high BP and other negative effects on health.”
Some HCFI tips to reduce noise pollution.
• Traffic flow around schools and hospitals should be minimized as much as possible.
• Signboards displaying ‘Silence zone’, ‘No honking’ must be placed near these areas.
• Efforts should be made to ban the use of horns with jarring sounds, motorbikes with damaged exhaust pipes, and noisy trucks.
• The use of loudspeakers in parties and discos, as well as public announcements systems should be checked and discouraged.
• Noise rules must be stringent and strictly enforced near such silence zones.
• Planting trees along roads and in residential areas is a good way to reduce noise pollution as they absorb sound.

« Previous Entries