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Preventive medicine to propel good health practices

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Thursday, January 28, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

India has been recognized as a rapidly growing nutritional market with a stable demand for innovations. Even as the nation has a long way to go in structuring nutraceuticals as a major industry, this would accelerate preventive medicine which in turn would help propel good health practices, feel experts.

Preventive medicine is an interdisciplinary branch of medicine considering a number of factors influencing the health of a patient. It covers all the elements of socio-economics, the role of legislation, health equity, and the disparities found in communities and certain populations.
Though globally there is a specialty in preventive medicine, in India this is part of community medicine.

Preventive medicine specialities
Hospitals like Fortis and Apollo among others offer these specialties. Few of the aspects included in preventive medicine are health and diagnostics monitoring, fitness and recreational sports, healthy eating, rejuvenation wellness therapies etc.

In the case of Fortis, those specializing in preventive medicine are licensed Doctors of Osteopathy (DO) and Medical Doctors (MD). They have expertise in environmental and occupational medicine, biostatistics, epidemiology, planning and evaluation of health services, the practice of prevention in clinical medicine, researching causes of diseases and disorders in population groups, and management of health care organizations. The Department of Preventive Medicine, with a team of highly qualified doctors use their extensive knowledge and skills gained from the medical, economic, geographical, social, and behavioural sciences to provide you with the best of care.

According to Dr Manish Mattoo, Zonal Director, Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore, the need of the hour is to increase focus on preventive medicine to ensure a healthy India. The corona virus disease (COVID 19) has challenged the healthcare infrastructure.   Going by the pace of developments in the field of medicine, we are increasingly seeing that prevention is better than cure.

According to Amit Srivastava, Chief Catalyst and Founder of Nutrify India, preventive health encompasses all aspects of socio-economics, the role of legislation, health equity, and the disparities found in communities and certain populations. There is therefore a need to disseminate best-in-class knowledge relating to nutrition, wellness, food technology and allied areas which will help preventive medicine to grow.  Through valuable alliances and expertise, the affiliation between Gitam and Nutrify India , is looking at capacity building programs and also focus on research and development, formulation and process innovation in the area of preventive medicine.

The Gitam Nutrify Academy provides a programme on responsible nutrition. Gitam University is a prominent A++ grade accredited university. This programme aims towards capacity building of nutrition industry via a curriculum of degree programs. Nutrify India is a well-established platform that administers responsible nutrition in India and internationally across innovators and upcoming start-ups that will enable widening the growth prospects of preventive medicine.

Dr Somesh Mittal, CEO, Vikram Hospitals noted that as an interdisciplinary branch of medicine, the specialty of preventive medicine provides a holistic view of a patient’s health.

We need to ensure that with preventive medicine, population remains healthy and conscious of good dietary practices. The objective is to avert sickness before it happens. The agenda on hand is to look at methods to protect, promote and maintain health and well-being. It also aims to avert disease, disability, and fatality on an individual basis, as well as on a large scale in communities.

According to Dr Suraj Baluga, Co-founder, Clink, there is a need for creating more awareness about health insurance as health insurance penetration is abysmally low.

Preventive medicine deals in three sub-specialty areas: Public Health and General Preventive Medicine, Occupational Medicine, and Aerospace Medicine. Further, mega sectors of the preventive healthcare segment such as recreational sports, wellness therapies, fitness wearable devices and healthy meal delivery have grown markedly and are the key drivers of the growth of the industry.

Disease prevention includes ‘primary and secondary prevention’. In the former, measures are taken to avoid the occurrence of a disease. The latter is when a disorder or disease is averted after it is diagnosed.

Promoting preventive medicine
The government too has a major agenda in promoting preventive medicine. There is a focus on early diagnosis and give considerable importance to good health practices, said Union minister for chemical fertilisers Sadananda Gowda.

Chiming in, the Union health minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan had said that medical practices were designed to prevent occurrence of disease and to alleviate human sufferings thereby reducing the burden of medical expenditure on individual as well as on the nation. It also averted resulting complications after the onset of disease. Preventive medicine could be practiced by Government healthcare agencies, primary care physicians and the individual himself.

With this in view Ayushman Bharat, World Yoga, Fit India movement, Eat Right India, etc. were being implemented in the country to protect, promote, maintain the health and well-being of the citizens and prevent disease, disability and fatality.

Efforts like preventive screenings and services help to assess and reduce the risk of diseases and conditions such as hypertension and treating it before it manifests in the body as a marker for a more chronic and fatal disease like stroke. This is practised across hospitals said Dr Prathap K Reddy, chairman Apollo Hospitals Group adding that they are also being giving special attention to preventive healthcare.

Preventive healthcare is becoming an area of focus not just in Indian but world at large. Electives like Preventive and Social Medicine (PSM) are in vogue and this is an attempt to ensure life style disorders are at bay. In fact, it is synonymous with community medicine, public health and community health in India. All are devised for prevention of disease and promotion of health, said Dr BS Ajaikumar, Chairman & CEO, HealthCare Global Enterprises.

The Covid-19 outbreak has put the entire globe in a massive imbalance, with the healthcare industry bearing the brunt. Our fragile healthcare system warrants the government to develop robust healthcare infrastructure and preparedness to manage future medical emergencies, added Dr Kumar.

Given the skewed doctor-patient ratio in India, taking care of one’s health becomes even more important. This is where preventive care becomes relevant. The last decade has seen a rising adoption of home-monitoring devices for ease and convenience as opposed to regular visits to doctors or path labs. Preventive healthcare has helped consumers in making consistent choices and taking positive action on health, diet, and lifestyle in order to stay fit.

COVID-19, an eye-opener
The 2020 pandemic is an eye-opener towards individual health and a boom to the biomedical industries. Portable saturation probes have become a household gadget just as the glucometer. With a quick monitoring of the blood saturation, it became easier to determine whether there was an urgency for the ventilator or not for a COVID 19 patient. Such measures help to facilitate quick and rapid medical intervention.

“We are enabling our members first and ensure their wellbeing. We believe that one must prioritize their health like their finances, as without good health any amount of financial planning is a futile exercise. COVID-19 has taught the world about the importance of preventive healthcare. However, amidst the pandemic, people have been ignoring their regular health check-ups. We strongly recommend our patrons to run an annual health check and additionally avail a tax benefit in the process,” said Rd. Gautam Sen, Chairman and Founder of Healthspring.

The various benefits of an annual/periodic health check include keeping vital parameters in check, identifying fatal diseases like cancer in the initial stages itself and decreasing healthcare costs while ensuring a healthy and increased lifespan, he added.

 

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