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World Health Day 2020 – Focusing on Preventive Healthcare

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The WHO defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. With technological innovation, the need to put in physical labour by humans is reducing, directly affecting the health of individuals. As more and more jobs are becoming desk jobs which require people to stay indoors, a whole new set of problems have arisen in human health that includes obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, muscular-skeletal disorders, heart diseases and so on.
April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization. Over the past 50 years, this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health.

Importance of Preventive Healthcare

Lifestyle diseases such as obesity, hypertension or heart diseases are easier to deal with by putting efforts in preventing them rather than tackling them after a patient gets it. Preventive healthcare does just that. It works towards nipping diseases off a person while it is still budding before it gets a chance to become catastrophic.
The main goal of preventive healthcare is to help people stay healthy and fit. It also keeps people productive, enabling them to keep earning well into their senior years. It is a key to gain demographic dividend in a young country such as ours.
Most importantly, it helps cut down the healthcare expenditure burden for a country drastically.

Sectors of Preventive Healthcare

The sectors covered under preventive healthcare include healthy foods and nutraceuticals, fitness and sports, health monitoring and diagnostics, wellness therapies and tourism and health insurance among others.

Fitness

Fitness is among the most popular sectors of preventive healthcare. Indian has traditionally been a very fitness-oriented country. No less can be expected from the birthplace of yoga and pranayama. However, over time, as India became a service industry dominated country, its focus on these practices kept reducing making the youth of India unhealthier than ever.
In order to revive the age-old tradition and encourage not just the countrymen, but also the world to the life of fitness, United Nations General Assembly with efforts from government of India, declared 21st June as International Yoga Day.
In order to encourage fitness among Indians, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Fit India Movement in August 2019. This is a movement to take the nation on a path of fitness and wellness. It provides a unique and exciting opportunity to work towards a healthier India. As part of the movement, individuals and organisations can undertake various efforts for their own health and well-being as well as for the health and well-being of fellow Indians.

Nutrition

Nutrition is another important part of preventive healthcare. The malnourished population is in a very high number in India. In order to address the problem of malnutrition, the government of India launched the National Health Mission (NHM) in 2012 covering all the villages and towns in the country. The National Health Mission has two sub-missions
– National Rural Health Mission
– National Urban Health Mission
The core principles of NHM are:
Universal Coverage o The NHM shall extend all over the country, both in urban and rural areas and promote universal access to a continuum of cashless, health services from primary to tertiary care.
Achieving Quality Standards
Standards would include the complete range of conditions, covering emergency, RCH, prevention and management of Communicable and Non-Communicable diseases incorporating essential medicines, and Essential and Emergency Surgical Care (EESC).
The objective would be to achieve a minimum norm of 500 beds per 10 lakh population in an average district.
For ensuring access to health care among under-served populations, the existing Mobile Medical units would be expanded to have a presence in each CHC.
Continuum of Care
The linkages between different health facilities would be built so that all health care facilities in a region are organically linked with each other, with medical colleges providing the broad vision, leadership and opportunities for skill up-gradation.
The potential offered by telemedicine for remote diagnostics, monitoring and case management needs to be fully realised.
Decentralised Planning
A key element of the new NHM is that it would provide considerable flexibility to States and Districts to plan for measures to promote health and address the health problems that they face.
New health facilities would not be set up on a rigid, population-based norm, but would aim to be accessible to populations in remote locations and within a defined time period.