Dr Alexander Thomas, Executive Director – Association of Health Providers – India (AHPI) and Organising Chairman, National Health Conclave, gives an insight about the need of a multi-pronged approach to prevent NCDs, including early screening, diagnosis, management, public awareness and legislation
The National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4) assesses the health status of our nation through an intense process of data collection done throughout the country on key parameters of health. Historically, NFHS has focussed on maternal and child health, nutritional markers of health, family planning and communicable disease risk factors. In addition to the above, the latest survey has also looked at key metabolic indicators like body mass index (BMI), random blood glucose (RBG), and blood pressure in adults, which are indirectly indicative of the prevalence of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in India.
The prevalence of obesity varies from state to state, with 31 per cent of women and 29 per cent of men in urban areas considered obese. The high rates of obesity in general, and in some states/ Union Territories in particular, raise concerns about the future metabolic health of the people. It has been scientifically proven that obesity is the forerunner of metabolic dysfunction and predisposes one to illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension. According to the survey data, 6.7 per cent of the women and 10.4 per cent of the men in India have hypertension. Similarly, 5.8 per cent of the women and eight per cent of the men in India have a high blood sugar level.
While not all states have reported NFHS-4 data, the available statistics need to be analysed carefully as data trends indicate that this is just the tip of the iceberg with regard to NCDs. Although urban areas currently show more morbidity than rural areas, consumption patterns and lifestyle changes taking place in rural areas indicate a preference of unhealthy habits. This is likely to result in increased morbidity over a period of time. Before the situation deteriorates further, we need a multi-pronged approach to prevent NCDs, including early screening, diagnosis, management, public awareness, and legislation. An effective and sustainable strategy can be developed only if all key stakeholders in the health sector work together to address this complicated challenge.
The National Health Conclave 2017 being organised in New Delhi from August 10-11, 2017 is, therefore, a timely and important initiative. The conclave will be the first step in a multi-collaborative approach as a national level think-tank to holistically address issues related to health, and more specifically, NCDs. Bringing together all stakeholders with experience and expertise in various levels of healthcare, it provides a unique platform through which policies and strategies can be formulated. The combination of government, academia, industry, community and international agencies that are part of the conclave will provide much-needed direction to address the growing burden of NCDs in our country.
Express Healthcare is the National Media Partner for the Conclave.