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Health is not only an asset but also a resource which must be nurtured

Dr BKS SANJAY Dr BKS Sanjay

GUEST COLUMN

The World Health Day is commemorated on April 7 each year. The occasion is aimed at creating awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organisation (WHO). This year WHO theme is to build a fairer, healthier world.

The troika of Health, Education and Nutrition (HEN) are the basic pillars of development and it is unfortunate that both the government and society are ignoring these basic principles, hence the country is paying a heavy price. Health is not only an asset but also a resource which must be nurtured.The people associated with this sector should not work with the sole purpose of commercial benefit, their action should be based on human ethos.

Health, as defined by WHO is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Every person has a desire to be happy and I believe that only healthy person can be a happy. A healthy person can do not only his work but the work of others as well. The ability of any healthy person will be higher than the unhealthy person in every way.

Stress is the new health problem- around 70 per cent of diseases are stress related. Stress has been reported as a cause not only of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and many musculoskeletal problems but also cancer. Breathing exercise and meditation techniques have been proven to reduce stress by many bio feedback studies.The WHO has reported that the world wide burden of musculoskeletal problems is increasing day by day.

Most of these are self-created which are caused due to change in lifestyle. It is not difficult to change the lifestyle, it needs a change of mind set. The habit of alcohol, smoking and sedentary lifestyle is working as a fuel in the fire. If an individual can abstain from habits of alcohol, smoking and the sedentary work then the result will be much better.Abstaining from these three can result in better health.If one does his or her house hold work and avoids sedentary work, takes balanced diet and does regular yoga exercise and meditation then there is fair chance that one will lead a healthy and happy life.

If we want change in our self then we should learn the Buddhist philosophy about our life being shaped by our mind- we become what we think. As animals, humans are basically creatures of their environment- humans change their action according to the consequences of their and others’ behaviour. As far as health is concerned, personal and social responsibility can be found only with behavioural changes. A clinical research conducted by me revealed that 90 per cent of the road traffic accidents occurred due to the driver’s negligence.The main cause of accidents in India is overtaking, over speeding, drunken driving and recently the use of mobile phone while driving. All these are behavioural problems.

Currently, road traffic injuries are the main cause of deformity and disability in our country. The numbers of road injuries are increasing day by day. According to WHO report there are five lakh road traffic accidents in India every year. Out of them almost 1.5 lakh people are killed and a similar number of patients end up with deformity and disability in spite of the best available treatment in current health scenario.

I think that aggression of the road is a common scenario on the Indian roads and it seems that we take pride in breaking the traffic rules while travelling on the roads.We should change our mind set and take pride while following the law.Many psychological studies have shown that the brain does not differentiate between the right or wrong action, but, any action which you like can give you the same kick and adrenaline rush whether it is right or wrong in other words lawful or unlawful.

In my opinion, it is the responsibility of the society and the nation that we should be taught what is right and what is wrong in childhood. Had we all learnt the habit of following the law in childhood then things would have been different in India today as it rightly said that you are what your habits are. An American educationist Horace Mann said that “a former is worth a thousand reformers”. The concept of good health should be given in the childhood rather than in the later stages of life.

Infection is another major problem. The country was already facing many infections existing for centuries in our country like malaria, TB and others bacterial or viral infections. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has exposed not only our health system but the mind set of the general public too.  People are still not giving importance to primordial prevention of infection even after experiencing the Covid pandemic. Whenever the people forget to follow the precautionary measures, these incidences of infection have increased as seen in the resurgence of Covid. It seems that Covid infection came under control and everyone was very happy that the vaccination will eliminate the infection but in the last week the number of new cases of Covid-19 surged over one lakh cases and the number is increasing at an alarming rate.

It has been scientifically proven that the 50 per cent of the lung infection and 25 per cent of the gut infections can be reduced just by washing the hands properly. Here I would like to emphasise that we all should take precautions to prevent infection and take steps to improve the immunity in case of any infection.

Sleep is a fundamental need of every living being just like eating. No person can do without sleep for more than 48 hours. The former prime minister of Britain, Harold Wilson has even said that the prime minister who succeeds, is the one who sleeps for eight hours at his will. Those who do more work have a better sleep cycle, those who do not work as much suffer from insomnia. The lack of sleep and the influence of liquor are the main reasons why night accidents are mostly fatal.

(The writer is an orthopaedic surgeon and Padma Shri recipient)

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