Over the past few decades, India (and the world) has witnessed a shift in epidemiology of diseases towards greater prevalence of lifestyle ailments or non-communicable diseases (NCDs). In fact, the burden of chronic diseases or NCDs such as cardiovascular ailments, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity etc is increasing worldwide, and rapidly. According to WHO, the burden of chronic diseases which was around 46% of the global burden of disease in 2001 is expected to rise to 57% by 2020. According to Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) India State- Level Disease Burden Study report, deaths attributable to NCDs have increased from 37.09% in 1990 to 61.8% in 2016. With limited healthcare resources, paucity of doctors, pathologists and other infrastructure, this rise will put enormous stress on an already overburdened healthcare apparatus.
The silver lining to this grey cloud is the fact that NCDs are preventable as well as to a large extent manageable with appropriate lifestyle modifications. This brings us to the all important question of incorporating preventive methods into the treatment mechanisms of modern medicine. While modern medicine has made tremendous progress in controlling infectious diseases, finding surgical solutions to difficult problems and thereby prolonging life span, it offers little help for disease prevention. Being disease oriented, modern medicine also doesn’t offer viable solutions to achieving complete health as WHO defined. Modern drugs also come with side effects and people with chronic diseases have to regularly consume these drugs to manage their conditions.
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