I am a great believer in the old saying that “Health is Wealth”; in fact, I would go one step further and say that “Health is the Greatest Wealth” one could possess.
Healthcare industry is booming. Even if you build one Manipal Hospital a day (with 600 beds) for the next 20 years, you still may not be able to meet the demand of healthcare needs of this country. In my opinion, this probably is the only industry where you will never get a pink slip.
Bangalore has made huge advances in healthcare and is one of the preferred destinations for healthcare in this part of the world.
Technological advances will certainly play a big role in shaping the future of the healthcare industry. We are likely to see significant advances in the field of regenerative medicine like the use of stem cells, tissue engineering, bioartificial organs etc., being used to cure some of the serious diseases in the future.
We already have some excellent centers performing various transplants in our city and we will certainly see significant refinements in these fields in the future. For the first time in Karnataka, Manipal Hospitals introduced robotic surgery, which is especially useful in the fields of urology, cancer surgery and gynecology.
There has been a huge rise and I see the trend only growing wherein we have many new tertiary and quaternary care hospitals providing state-of-the-art medical care at a fraction of the cost incurred abroad in our city.
This speaks volumes for the improvement in the quality of medical services in the city in recent times
All in all Bangalore will continue to be one of the major hubs for healthcare in the future.
The improvement in medical infrastructure also throws up another problem, which we should not overlook - rise of health-related problems in the city and all urban areas of the country.
Health-related problems can be broadly classified into two basic genres: Non- communicable diseases and communicable diseases.
Under non-communicable diseases, health issues arising from smoking and pollution are on the rise, like asthma, chronic bronchitis, allergic rhinitis and so on. This is followed closely by lifestyle diseases related to poor food habits, smoking, alcohol, sedentary lifestyles and stress. We have seen a huge spike in the number of cases of diabetes, high BP, heart diseases, cancer and obesity.
Another medical condition that we often witness and which is also on the rise is stress-related psychosocial problems, sometimes culminating unfortunately in suicide due to lack of support systems, especially in the urban nuclear family set up
Coming to the second genre of diseases, we also have seen a rise in communicable diseases.
The population, the pollution and filth is increasing exponentially in the city and has increased the breeding of pests.
The increase in mosquito breeding and the congestion in the city has given rise to an epidemic of mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue, chikungunya and other vector-borne viral illnesses and malaria.
The rise in population density, congested localities and increased travel also leads to increase in airborne diseases like swine flu, bird flu regular flu and other airborne diseases, while poor sanitation in the city and lack of clean water and hygienic food is giving rise to water and food-borne diseases like cholera, gastroenteritis, hepatitis etc. All these problems will only rise, until and unless we address this urban problem with a serious sense of urgency
In addition to these, we are also seeing an ageing population because of increased life expectancy. Degenerative diseases like steoarthritis, dementia, parkinsons and other similar ailments are on the rise.
In addition to providing world-class healthcare facilities, let us not forget the adage: that an “ounce of prevention is better than a pound or shall I say a ton of cure “.
We should all work together in shaping a healthier and better future
Dr. Sudarshan Ballal
Medical director & chairman, medical advisory board, Manipal Hospital.