Sharing and disseminating authentic, recent healthcare information has been our endeavour over the years, and we are now giving it a more holistic and reader-friendly disposition. With the dawn of the 24x365 digital era, today’s doctors and patients alike are absorbing and leveraging healthcare knowledge cum wisdom along unprecedented vistas. These are getting increasingly complex technologically on the one hand and yet demanding simplification and customization for the healthcare consumer on the other. A few general observations can perhaps be made in this context which will help form the backdrop of our Health Gyaan Program.
Major paradigm shifts are now taking place in healthcare research as well as healthcare delivery, cutting across socio-economic-cultural demarcations.
Recent decades have been witnessing qualitative cum quantitative improvements in diagnostic modalities and treatment options, thanks to the humongous advances in biotechnology, immunology, molecular biology and other such disciplines
A specialized branch of medical journalism has been evolving as a result, with laudable semantics and syntax of high quality, the likes of which were never seen before.
Day-to-day living in the new millennium has changed dramatically for doctors and patients alike and will continue to do so for a long time to come as a result of the advances in technology and the gadgetry that goes with it.
Simultaneously with accelerated dynamics of daily life for all strata of the society, lifestyle-induced / -determined disorders are cropping up at a feverish pace, particularly in the newly urbanized sections of the population including those in developing countries like India. Nuanced life skills are needed to adopt new lifestyles and that is where life skill training is taking centre stage for many healthcare givers, consumers and other stake holders
Traditionally recognized infective / communicable disorders are now exhibiting different clinical manifestations and yielding ground to non-communicable entities that are not easily amenable to traditional pharmacological interventions.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are now taking a toll of 40 million people every year, which is around 70 percent of all deaths globally. NCDs are chronic in nature and cannot be communicated from one person to another so they must be tackled one-on-one, that too with a mind-body-soul approach
The list of NCDs is expanding in an open-ended manner but presently they cover cardiovascular, respiratory, malignant and metabolic disorders. NCDs typically have complex causes, multiple risk factors and long latent periods leading to low awareness and high risk.
Greater awareness cum emphasis is therefore being placed on things like diet, physical activity, emotional intelligence, relationships, quality time, quality of life as a whole, and so on. All these elements have their own relevance and importance, which means we need to look at things beyond mere medicines in order to feel healthy and happy. There is as yet no formula for measuring any of these attributes in today’s context but pretty soon we shall have wellbeing of populations replacing human development index, just like GDP giving way in economic parlance to other indices
At least one healthcare domain has seen a significant improvement in health outcomes in recent times and that is diabetes. The European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) has recently honoured Dr Jaakko Tuomilehto who led the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study (DPS), that demonstrated a 58% reduction in diabetes incidence with lifestyle intervention. This finding was confirmed in other studies from around the world, including the US-based Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).
It was no surprise, then, that Tuomilehto's lecture was entitled "Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes: A Dream That Came True." (Medscape, 1 November 2018). Dr Tuomilehto set the stage by identifying the general prerequisites for disease prevention. One prerequisite is that there must be a window of opportunity between recognition of risk and onset of the disease. The at-risk window of opportunity for diabetes prevention is the 10- to 12-year period during which the beta cells of the pancreas steadily decline in number and efficiency.
A corollary of the above development is the emergence or re-emergence of alternative medical systems that are gaining acceptance even in mainstream medical establishments like Harvard Medical School in the management of chronic, lifestyle disorders, including diabetes. It is often said that the Western World is resorting to a lot more alternative medical therapy than in “standard” allopathic ones, which is largely because of the steadily rising dominance of lifestyle disorders mentioned above, with stronger demands for filling the gaps in consumer needs, especially in chronic, recurrent ailments. At the same time, there is the potential pitfall of false or distorted benefits being claimed by these systems of medicine.
With internet search engines becoming faster and increasingly “artificially intelligent”, more and more netizens are becoming quite conversant and comfortable with many technical terms and concepts that might have baffled them just a few years ago. In short, in a manner of speaking, today’s netizen is not only becoming tech-savvy but also health-savvy which is in fact a good thing to happen as it places medical information on a broader footing.
Our effort here is to bring to you scientifically published / supported healthcare data / information without sitting in judgment or getting into polemics about the pros and cons of the therapy mentioned. We are aware that several healthcare observations that are published or reported in conferences are quite valid but yet may not be statistically “proven” or “fool-proof” because of the constraints of the study design and reporting methodology. We believe that we should accept such findings on their face value and take them in our stride without getting carried away far too positively or negatively.
In these columns, we shall pick and choose reader-friendly articles and concepts that can enlighten the reader as best as they can. Much as we like, we cannot possibly be sharing all articles that might be of relevance or interest to you so we are open to suggestions on the topics and journals that can be covered which will make this forum more interactive. After all, communication is a two-way highway, rather than a one-way lane. It’s early days here, so we shall see many changes in the content as well as the style of these columns which should only make them more and more interesting as we go along. Happy reading!