“Cardio-vascular diseases have become the `killer No.1’ in India. Thanks to the fast food culture and changing life style in the modern globalised scenario,’’ says Dr. A. Thomas Pezzella, world-renowned cardiac surgeon from the Massachusetts Medical School in the United States and founder director of International Children’s Heart Fund.

Talking to The Hindu, Dr. Pezzella, accompanied by Dr K.M.Charian and Dr. Pankajkumar Srivasthava, cardiac surgeons, said India was witnessing a transition from the era of communicable diseases like Malaria, Smallpox, Tuberculosis, etc, to non-communicable diseases like coronary artery diseases, obesity, etc.

”Obesity is a disease due to addiction to fast food. The fast food culture has already invaded China and its invasion to India is in fast under way. A concerted effort by the public health system, private sector and the medical fraternity is the need of the hour to counter this alarming health risk,’’ he said.

According to him, any one can access the Google and get himself educated on any branch of healthcare, without joining a medical school or college. The advent of Internet has brought knowledge at the finger tips of the common people. Kerala, with its improved healthcare system and education at par with any developed country, can be proud of having skilled human resources, he adds.

Long-term results

Dr. Cherian said safety of patients and long-term results were his prime considerations and he personally preferred beating heart surgery.

According to him, there is no justification in the clamour for a reduced cost of treatment from various quarters at a time when the actual cost of treatment is on the rise with the nurses and paramedical staff demanding salary hike, besides the expensive technological support the hospitals have to depend upon.

1,20,000 cardiac surgeries

Dr. Srivastava said as many as 1,20,000 cardiac surgeries were held in India in 2010. As many as 45 million coronary artery disease cases have been diagnosed in India in 2010 alone and the figure is expected to go up to 60 million by 2015, besides a large number of rheumatic and congenital heart disease cases, he said.

Dr. Pezzella was of the opinion that India should increase its budget allocation for health care and education. “You cannot expect immediate returns by investing money in the field of education and

healthcare as it will take atleast 10 years to show its positive impact,’’ he said.

In India, the budget allocation is only three per cent of the GDP where as in the U.S., it is 15 per cent. Cuba and Costa Rica have got a better healthcare system than the U.S., he said.

“I believe in Robinhood. I call Dr. Cherian a Robinhood. He charges high on the patients who can afford and give the extra money earned for free treatment of the poor,’’ said Dr. Pezzella.