World Health Day: Rising burden of NCDs worrying, says Apollo Hospitals study

World Health Day 2021 is today. Representative image/Pixabay

On the occasion of World Health Day on Wednesday, April 7th, the Apollo Hospitals Group, unveiled findings of a report on the ‘Health of the Nation’ which has looked at the trends over the last two decades. To talk about this and to share their reading of the developments, the top leadership at Apollo Hospitals led by its founder and chairman Dr Prathap C Reddy, held an online press conference on Wednesday evening. A worrying aspect that the study seems to have brought out was a steady rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and it says:  “The contribution of NCDs as the top causes of death in India has risen to a staggering 64.9 per cent as compared to communicable diseases, maternal and other causes that dropped to 25 per cent.”

Responding to a question from Financial Express Online on how has the pandemic impacted the caseload in NCDs, both last year and going by the early trends during the current round, Dr Anupam Sibal, group medical director, Apollo Hospitals Group, said, “it is hard to quantify though we can say that the numbers have increased. It is an aspect that we struggle with every week across our ecosystem seeing conditions that we should have ideally managed six months ago but were coming to us now. For instance, we have seen individuals with cancer where they were scared to come to a hospital during COVID and a lump was ignored only to realise that had that lump been picked up earlier and corrective surgery done, the cancer spread could have been contained. And, we have seen this trend in other disease categories too such as heart disease for example. Even diabetic patients and those with hypertension not getting their check ups done.”

He says, “the result is that the non communicable diseases (NCDs), which are so important, because of fear of COVID, have taken a back seat resulting in serious consequences because of this neglect. This is really worrying us,” he says. But then, he also adds: “we saw this last year but when the COVID numbers started decreasing and patients started getting back the confidence to visit the hospitals and we do hope this continues and NCDs do not get neglected.” 

What Apollo Hospitals is doing now is trying to see how Artificial Intelligence and Big data analytics can help to predict risk and prevent NCDs. Given the pandemic, this is also important as individuals with NCDs such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and chronic liver disease have a greater mortality risk from COVID-19.

Calling for people to give their health issues a priority and to get determined to stay healthy, Dr Prathap C Reddy, chairman of the Apollo Hospitals Group, says, “even before the pandemic began, we have been facing an unacceptable loss of lives due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The silent epidemic of NCDs was evident with NCDs behind 40 per cent of all hospital stays. However, in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the data from our Health of the Nation report made it clear that we have let another epidemic slip, the epidemic of NCDs – the impact of which we are already beginning to see around us. We can overcome NCDs together as a country, only if each and every one of us take our health seriously.” 

Talking of its new offering on helping people know their risks using, Dr Reddy announced the launch of Apollo’s ProHealth initiative. He said: “Apollo ProHealth is a proactive personalized health management program backed by cutting-edge technology – advanced diagnostics, artificial intelligence and predictive algorithms – to help identify your health risk. It coaches you to stay on the path to wellness until your health goals are achieved. With Apollo ProHealth, we hope to change the health check paradigm from a long checklist of tests to a meaningful conversation with the doctor on the status of your health, with a comprehensive plan to make you healthier tomorrow than you are today.”  

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