IHP, PFCD concludes expert panel discussion on NCDs

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India Health Progress (IHP) and Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD) had recently hosted a panel discussion in Chennai on ‘Non-Communicable Disease Burden in India,’ sharing best practices to mitigate India’s chronic disease burden. The conference highlighted the rise in NCDs, their impact on urban and rural citizens and on India’s productivity, as well as ways to tackle this chronic disease burden.

Panelists warned that health hazards apart, national economic outcomes were also being affected by four major NCDs—cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and chronic lung diseases—Indians are prone to. Experts on the panel included Dr V Mohan, President and Director, Madras Diabetes Research Foundation, Dr Rama Narsimhan, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospital Chennai, Dr Arun Gowda, Product Manager (Global)—Health, Nokia Life and Prof (Dr) Purvish Parikh, Managing Director, AmeriCares India.

Kevin Walker, Executive Director, PFCD moderated the panel discussion. Walker said, “Earlier it was erroneously believed that NCDs were ailments of the affluent. That myth has now been busted because rich and poor, urban and rural, all people are falling victim to NCDs. Unlike infectious diseases where symptoms manifest swiftly, NCDs are more dangerous because there are no immediate symptoms. The gradual, cumulative build up means the disease may be in an advanced stage when finally detected. That explains why heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other NCDs have high mortality and morbidity rates; preventive measures and timely treatment are the only way to curb these mounting mortalities.”

“NCDs is the major cause of mortality. It is estimated that almost 60 per cent of deaths in India are due to NCDs such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It is therefore time that the health focus in India also shifted to the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. To control NCDs, a multi-sectoral
collaboration including the Government/Non-Governmental agencies and other stakeholders would be needed,” said Mohan.

Given the complexity of problems in addressing NCDs, it requires the support of various stakeholders to combat such diseases. In this connection, Narsimhan highlighted the efforts of the Apollo Hospitals Group’s while sharing details about its much talked about Billion Hearts Beating campaign.

Narasimhan said, “Indians being highly prone to heart disease, the country runs the risk of being dubbed the ‘heart disease capital of the world.’ To reverse this dangerous trend, Apollo Hospitals has launched the Billion Hearts Beating campaign to combat heart diseases in April 2010. The campaign seeks to raise awareness levels and spur positive action that prevents heart disease and brings down the high number of cases currently being reported in India. To achieve this goal, the campaign has roped in multiple partners such as the media, physicians, leaders, healthcare and education institutions, NGOs as well as corporate entities, all of which have pledged to practice a healthy lifestyle that prevents heart disease.”

Individual presentations were followed by a moderated round table discussion where the experts suggested what they felt were the best ways to combat different diseases, while also discussing other problems and solutions.

Dr Arun Gowda, Product Manager (Global) – Health, Nokia Life talked about Nokia Life’s partnership with Arogya World, a non-profit organisation, which is committed with its efforts on diabetes prevention through life-style changes while using technology as a solution to the diabetes crisis.

Gowda said, “Health has the potential to scale to national and global levels. Prevention is the most important way to fight non-communicable diseases, therefore, we believe that working in conjunction with the health delivery system and using mobile technology, to share useful preventive information, we can address preventable health issues, leading to significant savings to healthcare delivery costs and having an impact on emerging societies not only on their present but, especially, on their future health.”

Deliberations and recommendations from healthcare experts at the round table will soon be compiled in a report and presented to the Government to improve healthcare outcomes.

Aman Gupta, Principal Advisor, IHP said, “Widespread, fast-paced lifestyle changes and soaring stress levels have contributed to an alarming rise in NCD cases in India and other countries. Since diseases such as heart ailments, diabetes and cancer are preventable, it is important to spread awareness about their risk factors, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, excess tobacco and alcohol intake, sedentary lifestyles and obesity. Preventive measures are crucial because NCDs disturb the well being of families; disrupt the social fabric and lower national productivity, since many afflicted people fall within the productive age group.”

EP News BureauMumbai

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