World Health Day 2021: Experts talk about the current health care situation

The theme of World Health Day 2021 is building a fairer and healthier world

World Health Day is a global health awareness occasion celebrated every year on April 7, under the sponsorship of the World Health Organisation (WHO), with an aim to ensure that everyone, everywhere realises their right to good health. Keeping this in mind the theme of World Health Day 2021 is building a fairer and healthier world.

Commemorating the occasion while spreading awareness, experts from Ujala Cygnus Hospital, IHW Council, Vision Eye Centre, Paras Hospital, and Columbia Asia Hospital, talked about the current scenario of our health care system. Dr (Col) R Ranga Rao, Chairman, Paras Cancer Centre, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram said, “As we are amid a pandemic this year while we celebrate Health Day, we should all be first grateful for our healthcare workers who are working day and night. Talking about the pandemic and how it has impacted cancer care, probably we will never come to know the exact magnitude of human loss. Universally in India, nearly 50-80 per cent of people under treatment for cancer have experienced some delay in care due to the pandemic.

Taking about returning back to normality, he added, “However, we are getting back to normal. Many healthcare centres are once again encouraging patients to come in for routine care and treatment. Many have implemented safety protocols (like limitations on visitors, getting rid of waiting rooms, and mandatory COVID-19 testing for certain patients and staff) that make it safe for most patients to come in for treatment or follow-up. Oncologists had requested the outstation cancer patients to get their chemotherapy done from their nearest hospital to avoid travelling in peak times of the pandemic. During COVID, old cancer patients couldn’t come for checkups which resulted in many recurrence cases. New cancer patients could not get into the hospital for getting their check-ups done as many centres were either shut or converted into COVID ward.”

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Dr. Tushar Grover, Medical Director, Vision Eye Centre, New Delhi said, “On the World Health Day, even as we are confronted with a deadly pandemic, we must also use this occasion to pay due attention to our eye health. Given the pivotal role that our eyes play in our daily lives and that the slightest injury of permanent nature can be a debilitating handicap for our everyday functioning, we must value our ocular health as much as our overall physical health. Our eyes are the second most complex organ that we possess after the brain with about half of it dedicated to vision and sight. Therefore, these sensitive and delicate organs require constant care and caution. For instance, while those with normal healthy eyes must guard against any unwanted entry of foreign body and avoid strong and harsh light, those meant to wear prescriptive glasses or lenses must wear them regularly as advised by their eye doctors.”

Speaking further about the importance of eye care, he continued, “If one has any feeling of irritation, pain, itchiness, or any abnormal feeling coming from the eyes, one must immediately consult an expert and not take recourse to self-medication. Similarly, in case of any sense of weakening of eyesight or having troubles with seeing, one must immediately get their eyes thoroughly examined by a trained ophthalmologist. An eye examination can also reveal whether we have other lifestyle diseases such as blood pressure and diabetes. Some of the most common eye diseases that are found among us include refractive errors, squint, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma, among many others. And we need to be careful against them.”

Dr. Shuchin Bajaj, Founder Director, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, said, “The healthcare industry has taken the brunt of the Covid 19 pandemic in many ways last year. This year too the pressure on the hospitals will be that much higher because they are dealing with routine cases, routine surgeries as well, and in addition the recent second wave of Covid infections. So, it will be a tough fight to make sure that we treat all the patients. We will do our best. We are always ready to serve the patients and all of us. But if, the cases keep increasing it will be a tough fight for the healthcare infrastructure which has already been put under peak strain last year and it will be tough for the doctors and staff to again go through that stress once more as the cases rise in Delhi and North India.”

Dr Ramesh Chandra Joshi, Clinical Oncology, Columbia Asia Hospital, Palam Vihar Gurgaon said, “Cancer incidence in India in the past decade has increased alarmingly, and in most of the cases, people have succumbed to the disease only because it was detected late. There is an urgent need to make people aware of the risk factors that can lead to cancer in them as well as their symptoms as many of the cancers are curable when detected in early stages. This will help people in self-monitoring their health and screen in time. Oral and lung cancer are the commonest cancer in men in India while breast cancer is the commonest in Indian women. It is important to enhance the cancer treatment facilities like Surgical, Medical and Radiation available across the country to render better cancer care to the people.”

Mr Kamal Narayan Omer, CEO, IHW Council, said, “This World Health Day comes at a very critical juncture in the history of humankind when the COVID-19 pandemic has affected 0.13 billion people globally. The pandemic has, for the first time in our recent history, brought health to the fore as an important public policy matter. While many hoped that the pandemic would be reined in with vaccination, lack of adherence to guidelines has proved to be counterproductive to the efforts made by our scientists and healthcare professionals. The pandemic underscores the importance of public participation in any policy measure. At the same time, it also highlights the importance of preparedness and increase in public spending to build infrastructure that will ensure equitable healthcare to all.”

“Currently, India needs to ramp up its healthcare infrastructure rapidly and ensure enough availability of oxygen and ventilators so that severe cases of infection can be treated optimally. It is also important to increase the coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and check the loopholes such as fraudulent enrolments and wastage to ensure that those who need it get it. The pandemic should not let the more basic health problems get less attention and priority. Half of India’s women and children suffer from anaemia, a preventable health condition — Anaemia-mukt Bharat must remain a high-priority health programme. Programs that work in favour of building a healthy nation — access to safe drinking water, nutritious food, and clean air — must receive their due priority and be supported for holistic healthcare that is the base of building a fairer, healthier world for everyone,” he concluded.

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