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It's Time To Shift Gears Healthy Way
India has a long way ahead and needs leadership in this space. I hope we continue to propel forward with the right insight, futuristic approach to health and wellness and move this nation towards a healthy, active, well and a happy society
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The Universal Health Care Plan rolled out by the Indian Government is a step in the right direction but unfortunately is sick-care focused and not focused as much on health and wellbeing of individuals. Resources are needed to keep the healthy population healthy and move the sick towards better health by fostering healthy lifestyle habits. The plan in itself is focused on short-terms goals and lacks forward looking progressive approach to sustainable wellbeing.
With 6 of 10 individuals suffering from Non-Communicable-Diseases -such as Cardiovascular Disease, Stroke, Diabetes, Cancer and COPD- due to unhealthy lifestyle habits starting from but not limited to poor nutritional intake and sedentary lifestyle, it's time we shift gears on how we can manage the Indian Healthcare Ecosystem. Moreover, Health and Wellness is multifactorial and cannot be looked unidimensionally on just physical symptoms. Latest research points out that stress, anxiety, depression; smoking, alcohol, drug, technology addiction; obesity, lack of relational - emotional wellbeing, lack of life purpose or pursuit of happiness are all root causes of major chronic diseases. Studies also show that 85% of risk associated with most chronic diseases are not genetic but behavioral.
Sadly, India ranks 133 on the World Happiness Index. Not to miss, less than 5% of the population today engages in top health behaviors. The NCD burden earlier limited to the urban population has manifested itself in rural economies. For long- term success, the Indian Universal Healthcare Plan must focus on prevention and proactive wellness for all. Government spending on Healthcare must account for health and wellness programs that will help in education and inculcating healthy habits in a manner that they become a part of our daily lifestyle.
What is also baffling is that 52.5 million people are pushed into poverty every year from health - related hospital and surgical intervention expenses leading to a huge economic burden! Hospitals and Insurance Companies primary focus going forward needs to be on providing adequate care focused on prevention and management of Lifestyle Diseases. What needs to be noted is that the current National Healthcare Insurance cover is limited to Rs. 30,000 and that does not necessary cover the entire procedure costs absorbed by the patient or their immediate family members. In the future, this need to change with emphasis on covering the patients' costs before and after the hospital procedure as well. Not to mention, no processes are put in place to hand-hold patients, enabling them to make lifestyle changes so that they can further delay the reoccurrence of disease and move them towards an improved quality of life. It would also be great to see incorporation of Nutritional Counseling, Gym Memberships, Health and Wellness Coaches, Physiotherapy, Spa and other health and wellness services in Health Insurance plans going forward.
Something that is usually unspoken about is the fact that lack of Medical Compliance by patients also slows the recovery mechanism. The treatment protocol also needs to go beyond just medications in a highly prescriptive model. Preventive Health in Private and Public Hospitals is limited to diagnostic tests which in itself does not lead to improved quality of life but is just a precursor to knowing the status of someone's health.
We therefore, no longer need more specialist but are in desperate need of more generalist who are trained on the science of behavior change, nutrition, exercise and wellness to educate, coach, and build a deeper level of awareness of the root cause of disease and motivate them towards heightened levels of wellness. Such programs need to focus on people's innate strengths and help them to overcome obstacles that stand in their way of an improved quality of life, health and happiness.
Since schools are formative years of cultivating healthy habits, a curriculum that lays emphasis on exercise, sports, nutrition, stress management and wellbeing is extremely critical. Organizations on other hand must be incentivized for having wellness programs on sustainable habit formation.
India has a long way ahead and needs leadership in this space. I hope we continue to propel forward with the right insight, futuristic approach to health and wellness and move this nation towards a healthy, active, well and a happy society.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.