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Vice President calls for mass movement against lifestyle diseases

New Delhi: The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu called upon the doctors, hospitals and medical colleges in both public and private sectors to launch a campaign to prevent non –communicable diseases by creating awareness among the people particularly among the youngsters.

Addressing the 10th convocation of JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, in Mysuru today, Shri Naidu asked them to visit the schools and colleges in their neighborhood and to conduct awareness campaigns on the measures to be needed to maintain healthy lifestyle.

He expressed concern over the increasing incidents of Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs) in India. Quoting a WHO report, the Vice President said that nearly 61% of deaths in India are due to non-communicable diseases. What is even more worrying is the early onset of lifestyle diseases in India, he said.

To counter this prevalence of Non Communicable Diseases, Shri Naidu stressed the need for adopting a healthy lifestyle and good dietary habits highlighting that “unhealthy food and sedentary lifestyle were contributing to increase in NCDs.”

He also expressed the need to establish NCD clinics in both urban and rural areas and called upon the private sector to play a prominent role in setting up such clinics.

The Vice President appealed to the youth to keep physically fit by taking active part in sports and yoga. He said that yoga is an ancient Indian art and science and has nothing to do with religion.

He drew attention to the Fit India campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and appealed to the youth to take this mission forward and make it a people’s movement to build India that was both healthy and happy.

“A nation with unhealthy population cannot progress,” he said.

Talking about the state of Indian healthcare sector, Shri Naidu said that India has achieved significant progress since Independence on various health indicators such as life expectancy, maternal mortality rate etc. However, he said that there was still a lot to be done on many fronts such as shortage of qualified doctor and resultant low doctor-patient ratio, high share of out-of-pocket expenditure, inadequate infrastructure in rural areas and inadequate preventive mechanisms.

Welcoming the decision of the Union Government to establish a medical college in every district, the Vice President however there was a need for setting up more medical colleges to address the shortage of healthcare professionals.

The Vice president said that newly constituted National Medical Commission (NMC) is a step in right direction and expressed hope that the Commission will provide for a medical education system that is inclusive, affordable, and ensures availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals in all parts of the country.

Expressing concern at the gradual erosion of human touch in doctor-patient relationship, Shri Naidu said that “there should be an effective communication between the doctor and his/her patient and latter should always be treated with empathy and humanism.”

‘Medical courses curriculum should also include subjects like bio-ethics, humanities and communication skills’, he said.

Mentioning the old saying that ‘Prevention is Better than Cure’, Shri Naidu expressed need to give importance to preventive aspects of medical education.

The Vice President appreciated Sri Suttur Math JSS Acedamy of Higher Education for the service to the society and called upon the youth to work for eradication of social evils such as casteism, gender and social discrimination from India.

The event was attended by Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji, Shri V. Somanna, Minister of Housing, Govt. of Karnataka alongwith the faculty members and students of JSSAHER.

Following is the full text of the speech-

“His Holiness Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Mahaswamiji, Sri Somanna, officers and the members of Board of management of the JSS Academy higher Education and Research, faculty members, distinguished invitees, students, sisters and brothers and dear young graduates,

I am pleased to be with you all today to deliver the convocation address at the 10th convocation of JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research, Mysuru.

This day is indeed very special for all the graduating students who have gathered here. Graduation ceremony marks a momentous occasion in your lives. As you celebrate, it is also important to acknowledge a new beginning. I believe that after passing out today, some of you might opt for higher studies, some may start working as healthcare professionals and some others might set up their own ventures.

Whatever you choose, always dream high and strive hard with unwavering commitment and passion to realize your goal. Never falter, remain sincere and steadfast in pursuing your dreams.

Always remember that true wisdom consists not only seeing before your eyes but the foreseeing.

As I see, most of you will be in the medical profession–- may be as a doctor, pharmacist or researcher, in whatever capacity you are working, your role will be very important.

India has achieved significant progress since Independence on various health indicators.

With successive governments according high priority to health and the wellbeing of the people, the average life expectancy has increased to 69 years and India’s disease burden due to communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases has dropped from 61 % to 33 % between 1990 and 2016.
There are noteworthy improvements in health indicators relating to infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) due to increasing penetration of healthcare services across the country, extensive health campaigns, sanitation drives, increase in the number of government and private hospitals in India, improved immunization and growing literacy,
India’s health sector has a number of competitive advantages–, from a large pool of well-trained medical professionals to a flourishing Pharma industry which excels in generic drug manufacturing, to cost effective and quality medical procedures. The cost of surgery in India is substantially less when compared to the US or Western Europe, which makes India a healthcare destination of choice.

In spite of all these advancements, there is a long and arduous road ahead of us.

Our health sector still grapples with inadequate public spend, low doctor-patient ratio, high share of out-of-pocket expenditure, inadequate infrastructure in rural areas, lack of penetration of health insurance and inadequate preventive mechanisms.
Despite the progress made by the nation in various fields and the advancements made in modern medicine, we still face a huge shortage in the number of qualified medical practitioners in India, especially specialist doctors. It has been estimated that India is facing a shortage of 6 lakh doctors and 20 lakh nurses.

The National Health Profile 2018 says that there is just one allopathic government doctor available for around 11,082 people across the country– more than 10 times the WHO recommended ratio of 1:10

There are around 71000 MBBS seats in the 500-odd medical colleges, whereas we only have 32,000 post-graduate seats.

The newly constituted National Medical Commission (NMC) is a step in right direction. I hope this Commission will provide for a medical education system that is inclusive, affordable, and ensures availability of adequate and high quality medical professionals in all parts of the country.

India is witnessing a troubling transition, from Communicable Diseases to Non-Communicable, lifestyle diseases (NCDs).

A WHO report attributes nearly 61% of deaths in India to non-communicable diseases. Studies shows that the contribution of cardiovascular diseases to mortality increased by 34·3% from 1990 to 2016. During the same period, the age-standardized diabetes prevalence rose by 29·7% in India. Also, we need to keep in mind that this data was largely based on self reporting by people.

A Lancet study finds the NCDs are typically present in individuals aged 55 years or older in many developed countries, but their onset occurs in India a decade earlier at the age of about 45 years. This is mainly because of genetic predisposition, changing lifestyle and factors like pollution. Eating unhealthy food and leading a sedentary lifestyle were contributing to increase in NCDs.

To counter this prevalence of Non Communicable Diseases, we must adopt a healthy lifestyle and good dietary habits.

I feel that there is a need to establish NCD clinics in both urban and rural areas and the private sector must play a prominent role in setting up such clinics. I would also like call upon the doctors in both public and private sectors to visit the nearest schools in their localities and conduct awareness campaigns on the need to maintain healthy lifestyle.

 One of the things I have noticed in the wake of technological advancements in the medical field is the gradual erosion of human touch or human element in doctor-patient relationship. I feel that today’s doctors are not communicating adequately with the patients and rather performing their duty in a mechanical fashion—probably due to work pressure.

I think there should be an effective communication between the doctor and his/her patient. It should be remembered that doctors are treated like God by patients and the latter should always be treated with empathy and humanism. It is quite important to always uphold highest standards of ethics morals.
Medical courses curriculum should also include subjects like bio-ethics, humanities and communication skills.

Society regards a doctor as ‘god’ because he saves life. But we often keep reading the stories of exploitation, especially in private medical sector. For example, take the case of increasing number of Caesarean section (C-section) deliveries in India. A study by IIM, Ahmedabad found that many of these C-section deliveries were unnecessary and were driven mainly by financial motives. It is also observed that quite often unnecessary tests and expensive medicines are prescribed putting much pressure on the pocket of poor patient. This is unacceptable. This is unethical. This is not expected of a conscientious  doctor.

So dear students, I call upon you to raise your voice and protest wherever you come across such malpractices. Your heart should always be filled with empathy for those who are suffering.

I have also observed that focus of medical education has been on curative aspects rather than preventive aspects. I personally feel that the old saying ‘Prevention is Better Than Cure’ is very true and essential in today’s era.

The Prime Minister has launched Ayushman Bharat with an objective to provide accessible and affordable healthcare for the common man. This is the world’s largest government funded healthcare program. I hope that Ayushman Bharat will address the issue of people getting pushed into the vicious cycle of debts due to out-of-pocket expenses and high treatment costs.

As you all are aware, India is blessed with a unique advantage—about 65 per cent of our population is below the age 35 years. We have to fully realize this demographic dividend. The young population can contribute to nation-building only when it is motivated, adequately trained and skilled and most importantly when this population is healthy and fit.

That is why I feel that role of health professionals is very important. A nation with unhealthy population cannot progress.

Encouraging the youth to take part in regular physical activities, encouraging them to learn and practice Yoga would entail better results.

Here, I would like to draw your attention to the fit India campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I appeal to all of you to take this mission forward and make it a people’s movement to build India that was both healthy and happy.

As said by the father of our nation Mahatma Gandhi: “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

We must revisit our age-old traditions. Our youngsters need to be made aware of the important role diet plays in leading a healthy lifestyle.The food prescribed by our ancestors was time tested and was in accordance with the requirements of the geographical regions, climate and seasons.

I also advise the youth to take a break from the technology-driven lifestyle and spend some time in the lap of nature as it will re-energize and rejuvenate them.

It’s time for not just returning to our traditional healthy lifestyle but also to re-explore our history.

We need our own sense of history that is reflective of Indian perspective and Indian values. This right sense of history and pride in one’s cultural heritage is very important for a nation that aspires to become a world power.

I am very pleased to see that under able guidance of His Holiness Swami ji, JSS group of institutions is promoting Indian values and serving the society in the true spirit of

सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिन:,सर्वे संतु निरामया।

Sri Suttur Math has been guiding light of humanity since ages, showing us the path of transforming societies with compassion and humanity.

I am happy to know that JSS Academy of Higher Education & Research, Mysuru has been ranked among the top 50 universities/Higher Education Institutions in India by NIRF- National Institutional Ranking Framework by MHRD, Government of India.

In the end, I would say that this is also very special day for the parents as they see their young children successfully completing one phase of their life and move on to the next and more independent phase of their life.

Always remember that your parents have sacrificed a lot for your education. They have made innumerable silent sacrifices so that you have a bright and prosperous future. So always work to make your parents, teachers and the alma mater proud.

My best wishes and congratulations once again to all the graduating students!

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