Health has taken a back seat in emerging India where stress and sedentary lifestyle is taking a toll on urban youth’s physical well-being, says Shivinder Mohan Singh.
The Fortis’ executive vice-chairman was speaking on Yuva Mange More in Zee Media’s Bharat Bhagya Vidhata initiative. Singh was joined by Sanjeev Bagai, CEO and dean at Radiant Life Care. The two industry leaders broadly agreed that lifestyle diseases pose huge challenge to India’s youth population while differing on the extent of government support to expand the outreach of private healthcare solutions.
Reasoning out the rise in lifestyle diseases, Singh said, “The health of youth is getting affected by three factors: People are getting busier with their jobs, technology is leading to changes in sleep and lifestyle patterns, and with more disposable income health has taken a back seat as they give attention to other things.”
Social prosperity comes with inherent health risks. The nature of diseases too changes – emanating from depravity to excess of nutrition.
“In the last 25-30 years, our society has evolved and hence it is obvious that ongoing risks will also emerge. India is a young country where we are seeing an increasing number of lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, asthma, depression, neurological problem, cardiac problem,” Bagai stressed.
The need of the hour is to take self-ownership of health, advocated Singh.
“Health is an individual subject owned by you for your benefit. Today, in schools also, the curriculum is giving importance to healthy diet and lifestyle. Healthy diet, proper lifestyle, and little exercise can help you in the long run.”
Raising concerns over the decreasing level of physical activity, Bagai said, “Physical activity has almost become zero. Unless physical activity is not given importance, students will be more inclined towards sedentary lifestyle.”
Encouraging youth to stay away from smoking and other related activities.
“Youth should stay away from the intake of smoking, tobacco, alcohol, and drug. It has an overall devastating impact in the short and long run. Don’t forgo your own value system under any kind of societal pressure,” he added.
Throwing some light on the existing infrastructural imbalance in the healthcare sector, Singh said, “While 20 % delivery services are provided by the government, private sector provides 80 % of them. However, 70 % of infrastructure (beds and hospitals) is under the control of government.”
“We have one bed to a 1000 population. However, as per WHO, a developing country needs 3.3 beds per 1000 population. Thus, we have only 30 % beds as against the requirement,” he added.
We are clearly very short on qualified doctors. Bagai said, “There is a shortage of 10 lakh doctors in India. Furthermore, in 2013-14, we require 22 lakh more beds.”
Concurring with the above view, Singh said, “If research reports are to be believed, we will have the maximum number of cancer cases by 2030. In order to address this issue, we need doctor, technology, and hospitals.”
Primary healthcare is weak and there is a need to strengthen it. Bagai said, “The penetration of private hospital chains can increase in small towns and villages if government can provide them (private sector players) land at free of cost and also provide some other subsidies.”
Singh, however, has a different take on the issue. “I don’t believe in the concept of getting free land. India needs a lot of investment in this sector. Moreover, doctors are reluctant to go to rural areas as they find more opportunities in cities.”
Offering solutions to improve the grim health scenario in the country, Singh said, “The single biggest solution is increase the number of medical colleges and seats. One should maintain healthy diet and life style. Lastly, we must set a code of ethics for our sector. We must be able to self regulate and monitor what we do.”
Reiterating the view, Bagai said, “Improve the maternal health as a healthy mother can give birth to a healthy baby. One should adopt good healthy eating habits. Most importantly, number of medical colleges in the country should be increased.”
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