Urbanization is the next shift in the history of human civilization.
If experts are to be believed more than 60 % of the human population would be living in mega cities by 2050. This would call for massive investments in process, technology, infrastructure and people. It would also call for a re-look at how healthcare is being delivered today.
One of the key factors that has changed due to urbanization in India is the disease pattern.
For a country that for long relying on Agriculture, the disease pattern was mostly consisted of acute communicable diseases. Malaria, Cholera and Typhoid for long haunted India. The tropical climate, the heat waves, the lack of proper sanitation in the hinterland was the main elements contributing to this situation.
But not anymore.
India today is plagued by typical urban diseases like TB, Hypertension and Diabetes. These are a direct result in the change in our life style without a change in the diet.
Let me give you an example. A good friend of mine is very fond of ghee. He used to tell me how his grandfather used to consume a few kilos of ghee every month, in the form of ladoos, on Rotis and sometimes even raw. He lived to the ripe old age of 94. So genetically there was nothing wrong with the diet. But what he neglected was the fact that his grandfather was a farmer and he used to walk 10 kilometers daily. That was the distance between his field and home. His grandfather did not even posses a cycle leave alone a car and worked daily from 5 in the morning till 5 in the evening in the fields. His work also involved crouching for hours, lifting hay sacks, plugging fields and manually harvesting the crops.
My friend has a different life. Wakes up at 8 in the morning and hits the gym for 30 minutes. He then gets into his car and drives to work. At work his only exercise is hitting the key board a few million times in the day.
Needless to say my friend in diabetic and has been recently told to stay off ghee for his own well being.
Technology and urbanization are good, but also require a change in diet. We need to change the diet in order to counter the changes due to urbanization. The lack of this awareness is causing a change in the disease pattern.
In the next post I will discuss the implications that urbanization has on diseases like malaria and dengue…