Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart and kidney diseases were leading to premature mortality in India. Regular screening and making people aware of the early warning signs could provide a solution to these health issues, opined the former Chief Scientist of WHO Soumya Swaminathan.
She participated as a guest at the inaugural of the three-day 16th Global Health Summit, here, on Friday.
Speaking to media persons on the sidelines of the summit, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said that India had been identified as the ‘diabetes capital of the world’ and NCDs were taking the lives of people even before they reached the age of 70. The risk factors for NCDs were many: environmental pollution, individual behaviour, diet and sometimes genetic factors. She said individual behaviour was mostly responsible for these diseases. These include: smoking, consumption of alcohol and excessive consumption of sugar. A strong regulatory mechanism could help in curbing these issues to some extent.
Appreciating the efforts of the Government of A.P. in strengthening the health care sector through recruitment of doctors, nurses and health care workers, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan underlined the importance of investment in primary health care. She also spoke on the need to strengthen the laboratories as genetic sequencing had helped in identification of the variants of the virus. Genetic sequencing could be used not only for identification of infectious diseases but also in NCDs like cancer.
Referring to the Medtech Zone in Visakhapatnam, which is a WHO-collaboration centre for innovation and research, she said that the Zone should come out with medical innovations to make health care more affordable to people.
COVID-19 fourth wave
Replying to a query on the threat of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, she said that while it could not be ruled out, the good thing for India was that a vast majority of the population had already been vaccinated. Those who had missed the first two doses, and those who had crossed 60 or had conditions like diabetes and hypertension, should invariably take the booster dose.
“While there is no need for panic, one should be careful and wear masks in public places and follow COVID-appropriate behaviour,” she added.