Categories
Mental Health

Is India facing Mental Wellness Crises ?

India has always been a spiritual nation. For the last 5000 years, we have believed that the source of our mental happiness and wellness is based on our spiritual way of life.

But the modern mechanical world has in a way disrupted that pattern and in the last 50 years, we have seen an increase in cases requiring mental wellness intervention. We also see an increase in cases where patients need counseling and therapy. While this is still an emerging trend it is believed that this year 2020, more than 20% of our po[ulation needs mental wellness interventions.

Covid19 has exposed the need for the same. It is believed that the number of people requiring treatment is almost 25% more than previously anticipated. Also, the infrastructure in terms of doctors, psychiatrists, and counselors is just not there. To discuss this and more Dr Sumeet Kad and I took up this issue in our third episode of India Health Talk. The link is below.

On the positive side, there is an increased awareness of the situation, also due to the rise of telemedicine, we would see an increase in the number of teleconsultations. However, the key is to increase awareness and not take your mental wellness for granted.

We would love to hear your feedback, as well.

Categories
Public Health

The paradox of tobacco and cigarettes in India

Smoking is bad for health. Period. I think that debate has been over for a long time. The idea of having a smoke once in a while is not so bad as the addictive nature of cigarettes. The same I can say for all forms of Tobacco consumed in India.

Smoking is not a few phenomena in the country. There is evidence of Bhang and Cannabis consumption for almost 2000 years. It is even prescribed in ancient texts as a medicinal practice to manage pain and neurological disorders. Most recently Hookah has been used by both the royalty as well as the common people.

Now tobacco accounts for almost 10 million deaths in the country. Add to it the impact it has on the cardiovascular system and respiratory system would make it a very lethal habit to cultivate. Cigarettes for example contain more than 7000 chemicals out of which more than 250 are harmful and more than 60 are carcinogenic. This brings me to Cancer which continues unabated in the country. Non Communicable diseases also continue to be boosted by the habit of chewing and smoking tobacco.

While India has implemented many laws including Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Act (COTPA) with the creation of a National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP) in 2007. But the real reason why Indian government can never control or remove tobacco is the economics of it.

Today the tobacco industry caters to almost 120 million customers in India. The vast majority of tobacco is grown in Karnataka, Andhra, and Gujrat. Almost 50% of the tobacco consumed in India is the chewable type used in Gutka, Khaini and Zarda. Almost 30 % as bidis and only about 20% as cigarettes.

The below graphs give us a sense of the revenues from tobacco. This graph is particular to the cigarettes and the tax collection from smokers in the last decade.

There are many measures for controlling the consumption of cigarettes, there are Laws like COPTA, the ban on advertising, and the increasing control of public smoking in the country. But then who would kill the golden goose that gives almost 30,000 crores of revenue to the government from sale of tobacco products.

So on this World No Tobacco Day, I started thinking about what can be done to control the habit and reduce the disease burden of cigarettes while balancing the loss of revenue to the government?

Here is what I think can be done

  1. Treat smoking or chewing of tobacco as addiction. These individuals should enter therapy just like how we would expect people with drug addiction to undergo therapy.
  2. Focus on nutrition and health for the rural areas. One of the reasons why tobacco consumption is very popular, is because many people do not receive adequate nutrition. Tobacco consumption quells hunger and thats the sole reason why it should be tackled.
  3. Create smoking zones and tobacco consumption zones all over cities to ensure that the concentration of efforts to manage the communication and addiction can be well coordinated. Ban all consumption outside of these zone.

But the biggest challenge is how can the government substitute the 43,000 crores that it receives from tobacco sales. Now that is a question I leave open for economists. Do let me know how and I would be happy to make that discussion to the right authorities.

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5648391/
  2. https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/science/smoking-causes-over-11-deaths-india-among-top-4-countries-report/article9618981.ece#
  3. https://www.indianmirror.com/indian-industries/tobacco.html
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoking_in_India#cite_note-8
Categories
Public Health

Covid19 Test. Trace. Treat… Are We Doing Enough?

We have been hearing this advice from many sources for the management of Covid19 effectively. For understanding more about Covid19, I went on to check for a simple metric i.e. percentage of confirmed Covid19 cases vis-a-vis a total number of tests conducted by various countries affected with Covid19. My data sources are shared at the end of the article. I have used a different data source for the month of May; the reason being comparable dataset was not available with the earlier source.

March Numbers

CountryDateTotal TestsTotal Confirmed Cases%Confirmed
SpainMar 18, 2020300001117837.26
ItalyMar 20, 20202068864103519.83
IranMar 14, 2020800001136414.21
United StatesMar 19, 202010394594159.06
IndiaMar 20, 2020145411911.32

May Numbers

CountryDateTotal TestsTotal Confirmed Cases%Confirmed
SpainMay 24, 202035565672823707.93
ItalyMay 24, 202033911882293276.76
IranMay 24, 202078128613352117.08
United StatesMay 24, 202014357969166682911.60
IndiaMay 24, 202029434211326744.50

Just to mention, the source which I used earlier did not have the data for China so I could not include the same. Apart from China, I have shown the data for the countries which have got the maximum number of confirmed cases to date (in March) for illustration purpose and I also included our own country to put this in perspective. Now, if we compare the data for two instances; it shows different positivity rate (i.e. percentage of total confirmed cases / total test)

As we all know that lockdown was imposed in our country for preparing ourselves for fighting this long battle against Covid19 and a very important aspect in this battle is to increase our daily testing capacity as it’s the only way available to us to understand the spread of the virus in any particular community.

We have come close to daily testing capacity of 1 lakh+ tests a day which is almost 100 times increase from the initial days but still we are way behind when we see tests per million vis-à-vis other developed countries. Just to put this in perspective; India is doing 2135 tests / million population whereas Iran which has almost similar number of confirmed cases has been doing 9544 tests/ million population. And if we compare this with developed countries this number is in the range of 20000 – 75000 tests/ million population.

At the same time; we should not forget that various studies world over suggest that actual number of infected individuals are always higher than number of confirmed cases the reason being each country depending upon their testing strategies are able to identify the confirmed cases. Also, we should not forget that number of confirmed cases is a lagging indicator to understand the spread as the symptoms start to emerge only after 2 to 14 days from the day an individual got infected with the virus.

I am writing this article at a time when we are in lockdown 4.0 and have got relaxation in many parts of the country. This would be the real test of our healthcare infrastructure which we have managed to build during the national lockdown.

Key Points:

  1. Positivity rate for India is less vis-à-vis other nations which also got impacted with Covid19 (which is a good sign)
  2. We need to improve our testing capabilities to understand the level of community spread (as it is done in other countries); the reason being based on the historical evidence and current developments globally pandemic strikes in waves so we should not discard the possibility in our case as well.
  3. We should also increase the use of rapid antibody test to ascertain the level of community spread.
  4. We should be more concerned about deaths happening due to Covid19 as it is believed that 80% of the cases would be mild in nature; 15% would need hospital support and 5% would need ventilator support.

In our country, one can also debate the number of deaths happening because many of deaths happening in our country are not certified medically. But that is something we should discuss separately.

Again as always, questions and clarifications are welcome.

About the author

Yatindra Jha is a healthcare consultant with a focus on public health policy.

Sources

Data Source: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-testing – March Data

Data Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ – May Data

Categories
Public Health Uncategorized

Privacy Concerns with the Aarogya Setu Application for Covid19

Just this week, we recorded the second episode for the India Health Talk, with Dr Sumeet Kad. During the recording we ended up discussing the privacy concerns around Aarogya Setu, the contact tracing application launched by the Government of India to track Covid19 cases in the country. Aarognya Setu today has more than 10 Crore downloads and is the largest contact tracing application in the world. How do we balance the privacy concerns with managing a pandemic like Covid19? Alo what can we learn about other applications across the world in this space?

While I understand the concerns, in my opinion, during a pandemic we may need to give up some control over our data and privacy for the greater good of society. Pandemic is a national emergency and Covid19 is probably the worst example of it. But using privacy to derail the efforts to combat Covid19 is not a good idea. In the long run this may be our downfall.

Below is the full recording of the episode. Do let me know your thoughts as well.

Categories
Healthcare Technology

Why is there no AI in Healthcare India?

Just a few days ago I was on a webinar on Healthcare. The topic was the use of AI in Healthcare and the implications of Ethics in the same.

While all panelists spoke eloquently about the topic, I was trying to recall where have I seen AI in action in India. Unable to find too many instances, I spoke to my good friend and the editor of the New Age Healthcare Website Dr Sumeet Kad. Below is a recording of our interesting conversation.

Categories
Public Health

Evolution, Natural Selection and Public health: A Covid19 Perspective

Charles Darwin in 19th century, proposed an interesting theory of evolution, and three of his theories have been validated time and again and become the law of natural selection.

The three laws of Darwin are

  1. Prodigality of Production
  2. Struggle for Existence
  3. Survival of the fittest.

When we see the evolutionary aspect specific to human beings, man seems to be nurtured nature to a great extent through social and technological innovations that he brought to live a domesticated or tamed life far from wildness of nature.

Man seems to have tamed first law- prodigality of production by balancing with economic viability of nurturing child, that lead to the direction of minimizing birth rates , innovations in medicine aided this to minimize urge for having more children over centuries, defeating first law.

Man seems to have taken upper hand with his innovations and technological discoveries and minimizing the struggle for existence, in fact comforting himself to great extent to protect from vagaries of nature.

Survival of the fittest: This is the natural law, where how so ever the innovations at onestage or the other Man has to yield to the power of nature, still man is not able to win over to help the weakest of human being to survive over nature’s power.

Nature vs Nurture dialogue

Natural course:

In the course of human history, infectious diseases have been among the most important causes of mortality and morbidity for humans, including plague, smallpox, and tuberculosis (TB), measles, and diarrheal infections. Studies of the origins and distribution of infectious diseases examine the geographic distribution, life stage, and evolution of the infectious agent [malaria parasites, TB mycobacteria, cholera bacteria, influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS and HIV); the geographic distribution and life cycle of intermediate hosts (arthropod vectors for many diseases, birds for avian flu, bats for SARS, and deer and ticks for Lyme disease spirochetes); the geographic distribution of diseases they cause in humans and other species; and the key clues that some population subgroups are strikingly more or less susceptible than others. Infectious agents are also important factors in major “noninfectious” inflammatory diseases, like certain cancers, atherosclerosis, and arthritis

Inter species race to super power: Evolution in Action

Within the microbial world, there is remarkable interspecies competition and cooperation. Microbes exchange genetic material, even with different genera. They compete for space and food sources, adapting to selective pressures. Fungi have been particularly adept at producing antimicrobial chemicals that protect them against bacteria. Starting with Fleming’s use of the extract of Penicillium to kill Gram-positive bacteria, patients have benefited from these antibiotics from nature. These chemicals may be isolated and used directly, or they may serve as lead compounds for drug development. However, microbes are not passive agents. They respond promptly to negative natural selection in the form of antibiotics by developing genetically transmitted resistance to the action of individual antibiotics or sets of antibiotics. If these microbes are pathogenic to humans, our response is to create generations of antibiotics; hence, the “race to superpower.”

Nurture Course:

Man continues to evolve not only biologically but also through anthropological social means and tactics to make his life better. In the process nurtured a parallel evolution in his sphere called “Culture” leading to dynamic changes in food habits, living, and protection from nature. Organizing politically to streamline set of cultural patterns across the globe for the benefit and wellbeing of the species Homo sapiens.

Current Pandemic COVID19 and course of nurturing: Nature continued to keep checks and balances to the course of nurture by man. Famines, floods, cyclones etc. of geographical nature have changed the course of the human nurturing process. Human association with wild animal food habits has been tapered for a quite long time as man continued to be civilized, however, the famines lead man to go back to wild and survive the nature’s fury.

Living on animal meat wild is not new to humans, since hunter- gathers time, man is accustomed to live on animals wild or domesticated. In the course of human evolution as he evolves as social being, his biological capacities of disease resistance has taken back seat, thus man lost capacity to gel with powerful biome of the nature. Between 1958- 1961 China faced severe famine, and survival has become a challenge, then Man took the recourse and restarted sourcing food from wild, in large scale supported by policies and politics, wild animal meat has become source of food, that lead to 360 degree turnaround from domestication to wild way of feeding, living on wild meat.

This has taken economic scale and China is spread with Vet markets all around, where anything moving is commercialized and dined. The human incapacity to fight resistant biome (Microbes) in the wild off late lead to many epidemics in a course of 5 decades, we have Ebola, Zeta virus Sars, H1NI, and now Covid19, the origin may be China or Africa or any other place, the change in food habits nurtured by culture and rapid decrease in immunity of human beings due to nurturing, lead to the scale of pandemics we have been witnessing now. The frequency of epidemics increasing, as man power to wild is plummeting due to excessive nurturing and cultural domestication.

If we see Nature vs Nurture scenario in comparison of two contrary theories one Biological theory of Darwin on Natural selection vas Malthus sociological & statistical theory of Demographic transition, the direction of trajectory is evident

Darwin vs Malthus: Darwin’s law- 1. Prodigality of Production 2. Struggle for existence 3. Survival of the fittest. Malthusian demographic theory states stage1- High birth rates – High death rates stage 2- High birth rates – Low death rates 3. Low birth rates- Low death rates. With evolution of medicine and technology. Darwin’s 1st law becomes redundant, so Population is controlled. Human innovations minimized Man’s struggle for existence. Man’s penchant to reverse natural process of survival of the fittest is challenged by innovations and man said its “survival of the weakest”. This principle of evolved man is challenged again by COVID 19 and pandemics in the past. Man Vs Nature– struggle continues.

Inference: The struggle of man to tame the nature continues, man continues to takerecourse to duck nature fury through pandemics, resistant biomes and changing natural process which are unknown and stronger. The only ammunition is to build, develop robust public health structures, functions and processes along with rapid innovation in medicine to tame unknown natural enemies like resistant biomes, whether its viral, bacterial, protozoans, helminths etc. and remain vigilant to natural transitions and transformations. Human might of nurturing through technology, medicine, culture appears to be miniscule in the larger scheme of nature’s innovations.

About the author

Bhaskara Venkatesh is a master’s in Anthropology and works as a senior manager with the technology industry.

Reference: https://www.pnas.org/content/107/suppl_1/1702

Note: The thoughts are a collation of various anthropological, biological snippets in a structured logical sequence by author.

Categories
Public Health

We might be seeing the end of the #Covid19 pandemic in India.

On 15th March 2020, India had just crossed 100 cases. Italy was at 24.7k cases, US at 3.6k cases, Brazil had just gone past 200 cases, Germany had crossed 5.8k cases and Russia at just 63 cases. In the last two months even with varying amount of restrictions, COVID19 has still wrecked havoc in these countries and the world.

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With India now sitting at the threshold of 100K cases, we look at the effect various lockdowns has had on the Covid19 situation in India. We also take a look at how the countries continue to recover from COVID19.

We dig further in to our classification of Indian States with a new methodology that scores the states basis various parameters.

Note: We have removed Korea and Sweden from the study to Include Brazil and Russia. This gives us a better representation of the top countries with respect to no of cases reported

India and The world

On the 62nd day after crossing 100 cases India has the second highest daily growth rate (7 Day Rolling Average). If we look at the table only Brazil is ahead of India

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India has had 3 Lockdowns and we will start Lockdown 4.0 from tomorrow. These lockdowns have ensured that we have done much better in the number of reported cases than other countries in the study. But has the curve really flattened out? When we look at the other countries, we see that most of the countries have nearly managed to flatten the curve albeit at a very high number of reported cases. Currently on a logarithmic scale India, Russia and Brazil are showing strong signs of growing while other countries have a flat curve.USA, Italy and Iran have all flattened their curve. (Spain and France also show a flat curve though not included in the below graph)

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For India, the lockdown has ensured that we miss the steep growth path of other countries but we are still poised to hit a huge number, albeit at a slower rate. This means we have just prolonged our battle with the disease.

Although, India may seem to be trending towards a higher number of cases all may not be lost. India is doing well in terms of its recovery rate and outcome percentage.

Recovery Rate

Recovery Rate, i.e. no of people recovered by total outcomes continues to improve for the world and for India. India’s recovery rate has now crossed 90%. For the world it stands at 85%. The other countries in the study have also improved their recovery rate

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Outcome Percentage

Recovery rate should be studied along with the outcome curve, i.e. how many cases have had an outcome with respect to active cases. For e.g Russia has a 96% recovery rate but 76% of the cases still await an outcome. Similarly Iran has a 93% recovery rate at a 85% outcome rate which more or less signifies the actual recovery rate for the country.

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India has a good recovery rate with a decent outcome%.

Net Active Cases

Definitions

Net Active Cases = Total Cases – (Cases Recovered+Total Deaths)

India’s Net Active cases are at just a little above 53K. Except for Iran and Germany, all the other countries are much ahead of India. With India’s high recovery rate, it clearly shows that India is also recovering at a much higher pace than the other countries.

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India has also seen a declining trend in the net active case added each day. In the past seven days we have added around 1700 net active cases per day compared to higher than 1900 net active cases in the week before.

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This is a positive sign for the Indian Medical Fraternity as the reducing number of new active cases added does prevent the medical system from getting overwhelmed.

Lockdown Effect on India

When we take a look at the effect lockdown had on our growth rates, it can be observed that lockdown 1 certainly slowed us down, but lockdown 2 and lockdown 3 failed to have the desired effect of flattening the curve.

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If we look at the Indian States, Maharashtra has had no effect in the lockdown. Its contribution to the cases in fact has grown during the three lockdowns.

Similarly Delhi is another state that has been contributing heavily during the lockdowns showing minimal effect of the lockdown.

States Classification

We have changed the methodology of classification of states (Good, States to be Watched and Worry States) from May onwards. We were classifying the states on the basis of their 7DAGR only. Now we have also included the following to arrive at a weighted score

  • Total Cases Reported
  • Cases/Mil
  • Test/Mil
  • Growth Rate
  • Positive%
  • Outcome%
  • Recovery Rate

Basis these parameters we have arrived at a group of 

  1. Good States
  2. States to be Watched
  3. Worry States

The Good States

As on 16th May 2020, the following states qualify as the Good States. These states are characterized by low growth rates, low cases/million, higher Outcome% and high recovery rates.

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Haryana – Haryana has seen a recent spike in cases most of which are related to Delhi. Haryana, despite being surrounded by Delhi, UP, Punjab and Rajasthan (All these states have high number of cases) has done very well in terms of new cases. The Growth rate is below 4% and with aggressive testing it has maintained a low positive percentage also.

Jammu And Kashmir – This state saw a huge spurt in cases during the first lockdown. Most of the cases here were either linked to the religious event in Delhi or pilgrims returning from Iran. The state was once a worry state and now has come in the good states

Karnataka – There has been spurts seen in state but overall the state has maintained its low positive percentage and cases/million. The recovery rate is a bit lower compared to its peers but with outcome% also below 50%, the recovery rate may go up.

Kerala – This state was on its way to 100% recovery but with the return of Migrant Populations and Expats, there has been a minor spurt of cases. It will be interesting to see whether Kerala is able to control its cases as it had done previously.

Punjab – Punjab had more or less weathered the COVID19 storm in the first two lockdowns, but a sudden upsurge of cases from the last week of April saw Punjab come in the “Emerging Bad” category in my last article. But it has been an aberration due to infected pilgrims returning from Nanded and Punjab has controlled the situation well, to move in to the good states.

Jharkand – Less number of tests, but lesser cases and growth rate puts this state among the good states.

States to be watched

These states are those states that have either started showing a positive trend i.e. moving from a Worry State to a Good State or a negative trend i.e. moving from a Good State to a Worry State.

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Andhra Pradesh – This state is on the way down and will probably move towards the good states in a day or two if the trend continues.

Madhya Pradesh – Another state on the way down. This state was showing alarming trends during the month of April and was a worry state. It has still not completely slowed down but is definitely on its way down

Odisha – This was an encouraging state but recent trends show a very huge growth rate and will probably move to a Worry State soon.

Rajashtan – Another state that was showing huge growth numbers in April has slowed down very well. It had moved down to a good state but another spurt of cases moved it back to States to be watched

Telangana – We are not sure of the numbers for this state as they have stopped reporting number of tests done. Hence we are keeping this state as a state to watch

Uttar Pradesh – Like Rajashtan, UP was also supposed to burst with cases. But UP has maintained its trend, although a lot more testing needs to still happen in UP.

The Worry States

The States that add most to the growth of the Indian cases have been categorized as the worry states. These states have high number of cases, a higher penetration of cases in the population, a high positive% and low outcome%.

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Bihar – We had categorized this as an “Emerging Bad” State in our last article. It has now turned as a worry state. It has poor testing, a high growth rate and a low outcome%. This state may become a major problem especially with the migrant population traveling back.

Delhi – Delhi has tested a lot but it still has a high positive% and a high penetration rate. Delhi had slowed very well but with opening up of the wholesale market, cases have started zooming up again.

Gujarat – Gujarat was showing signs of slow down but still has a long way to go before it comes into a good state. high number of cases, poor recovery rate along with a sub 5% growth rate is making this state a huge worry for India.

Maharashtra – The state that refuses to slow down. Even after 54 days of crossing 100 cases the states growth rate of cases is still above 6%. This state has not slowed down once and daily number of cases have just shown an increasing trend. This is the most worrisome state in India, more so because of poor recovery rate also.

Tamil Nadu – A Covid19 explosion in one of its market turned this good state in to a huge worry state for India. This state is seeing a resurgence in cases after it was able to contain very well the effect of the religious event in Delhi, surge. The good part is that recovery rate is very high but still outcome% is very low.

West Bengal – Poor testing, High Growth Rate, very bad recovery rate along with questionable data sharing makes this state a time bomb. This state may explode or already has but we do not have the data for it.

In all, these worry states have to slow down. If they slow down and go below 4% India will see a reduction in cases. Also we should hope that in the coming days the list of Good States increases and worry states keeps going down.

CPM19 – The Road Ahead

On 2nd May, we predicted 75K cases for India by 17th May. There was another projection that the model made which showed more than 100K cases which was rejected as we were quite hopeful that growth trend would stabilize and we will not cross 3000 cases added per day.

This has not really happened and India has infact overshot our number by at least 18k cases. Nevertheless we will still try to predict the number for 31st May using this model.

We have used the CPM model to predict the growth trend for the states basis their classification as The Good State, States to be Watched and The Worry States. The prediction shows that by end of May we may very well be close to 150K cases. That’s another 60K cases in the next 15 days. The good news is that we may start showing a slow down in new cases reported after reaching a peak of close to 4900 cases per day. This may mean that we might start flattening the curve by end of this month.

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If our prediction holds true we may see a step towards the end of this pandemic in India although as we said before the road to recovery is a very long one. Also as India continues to ease the lockdown the road ahead may still be very bumpy.

About the Author

Sanjeev Prakash is an Analytics and Marketing professional with more than 12 years of experience in Analytics, Data Management, Sales, Brand Management, Corporate Communications, Market Research and Customer Relationship Management. Sanjeev has an MBA from IMT Ghaziabad and a degree in economics.

(Article also published on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/covid19-india-fights-back-sanjeev-prakash/?trackingId=D3q6XmsjQ%2B%2BWS1bIqQe8ow%3D%3D)

Categories
Uncategorized

Telemedicine services critical to the wellness of senior citizens in India

On my 43rd birthday, I received an unexpected gift with the Medical Council of India along with Niti Aayog released the guidelines for the use of Telemedicine in India.

It was ironic as MCI and other state associations have been fighting a battle to stop teleconsultations and putting regulations around it. But the coming of Covid19 has changed all that.

Today after a long time we have a spurt in telemedicine providers in India. Industry experts like Bharat Gera former CIO of St Johns Hospital, are working with bodies like Telemedicine Society of India to put in a process to benchmark the functionality of these providers.

In the long run, I see this as a very positive move for senior citizens. These individuals fight it difficult to access healthcare. Especially as they have chronic conditions that need management, right from transportation, to long hours in the waiting room.

To discuss this and other associated topics, I got together with industry experts like Ravi Ramaswamy from Philips to discuss the impact telemedicine would have on seniors. We were joined by Dr Neeraj Bhalla and Dr Vallikiran to discuss the impact on areas like Cardiology and Psychiatry respectively.

The recording of the session is below.

I believe that Telemedicine is a boon to seniors. There would be a learning curve with respect to getting used to the platform, training to caregivers, and then managing concerns like security. But I think Telemedicine is here to stay.

Categories
Nursing

The evolving role of nurses during Covid19 thoughts on International Nurses Day

Today we are in the midst of one of the largest epidemics that the modern world has seen. As we write this India has been under lockdown for the last 60 days. Covid19 has put healthcare back on the main agenda for most public policymakers. While doctors and hospitals being recognized in this fight, the real soldiers in this war are the nurses. In any healthcare set up, its the nurses who are in the trenches, fighting day in and day out against known and unknown elements. Some time ago we had written about how the nursing services were at the cusp of change. Today we focus on how the role of nurses evolves during pandemics.

Nurses today are leading from front. They are the managers at forefront at bedside of the patients, keeping them on the path to recovery. Therefore it is importatn that we keep nurses motivated and inspired to stay on with enthusiasm in the Covid Era. On this international Nurses Days, we spoke to Col Binu Sharma, Vice President for Nursing Services at Columbia Asia Hospital. Col Sharma entered the nursing profession almost 40 years ago in 1977. She has been in charge of nursing at Columbia Asia since 2007. Today her organization has more than 2000 nurses and technicians in hospitals across the country. Below are some excerpts from the interview

Healthcare India: Nurses are the backbone for our healthcare system, how does their day to day role change during epidemics?

Col Binu Sharma: Articulating the changes in the nurses’ role during a global health crisis is helpful for communicating a plan to decrease the spread of disease and for implementing improved policies, procedures, and supplies. The nurses are not only the backbone of the health care team but they are the most important link in the health care delivery system.

During epidemics, the nurses become the “role models “rather than merely playing various day to day roles. The role of the nurse changes to adapt to the needs of the patient, their families, the hospital, and the community. During such crises nurses take up leadership roles at the forefront like this time in the fight against Covid19. They not only add to the development of policies to fight epidemics or pandemics but they also prepare for, identify, respond to, and direct recovery efforts from global epidemics that require an informed, coordinated response.

Healthcare India: What kind of training is provided by the nursing colleges to handle these situations as part of the curriculum?

Col Binu Sharma: In the revised basic nursing curriculum the Indian Nursing Council has included 100 hours of theory & 160 hours of practical to teach budding nurses on the various aspects of epidemiology & standard treatment protocols.  For community health practical the nurses are put in clinical areas in the remotest villages  & they are introduced to nursing care services in resource limited setting and they are given ample opportunities to link theory to practice in these sort of situations.

In fact the entire nursing curriculum and training is about learning to face the most complex and adverse situation with positivity & humility.

Healthcare India: What measures and steps have you initiated in your career to help nurses deal with epidemics?  

Col Binu Sharma: We have initiated many steps including

·        Improved engagement and networking

·        Providing job security and reassurance, Flexi hours, psychological counseling and support to relieve anxiety

·        Encouraging fun activities, quiz and other relaxation measures

·        Focus on their health screening, regular meals, hydration, power breaks, resting zones in hospital. Transport to pick up and drop

·        Provided with digital platforms, webinars to connect for training, live demos and team communication

·        Provided scope for continual training & development. Formulate revised SOPs based on protocols from various authorized national and international resources. Training on Infection control procedures, employee safety, and patient-related revised disease protocols

·        Supporting with adequate resources, manpower, medical disposables. Ensuring quality and quantity of personal protective equipment and other safety attire

·        Encouraging team spirit by listening to their needs, regularly talking to them, helping them, guiding & mentoring them and most importantly leading the way

Healthcare India: What are your recommendations that we are better prepared for the future?

Col Binu Sharma: No amount of preparedness can predict success or failure in the future but being prepared always helps us to develop a positive outlook.

  • Factors like creating awareness among the community, development of infrastructure of the health care system especially in rural areas , educating the population at the rural sectors, providing safety & security to health care workers may help us deal with future occurrences of epidemics & pandemics in a much more coordinated manner.
  • Keeping our nursing workforce well trained with mock drills on disaster preparedness
  • Keeping database of ready nurses to be hired in case of such emergencies
  • Developing mentors for taking higher responsibility
  • Engaging and education society in some of the recommended measures of hand washing, social distancing, respiratory hygiene, sharing right information with hospitals  are some of the regular improved measures.

It’s good to see nurses leading the fight, but as Col Sharma says in her interview, a lot of care and thought has to be given to keep the nurses encouraged and prepared to deal with the ever-changing complex scenario that has become Healthcare in India.

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Healthcare Technology

Healthcare India among the top 100 Health Tech Websites in the World

Healthcare India has been again listed in the top 100 Health Tech Websites and Influencers for 2020. It has been a great comeback for us considering only a couple of months ago the site was hacked. The hacker not only added himself as admin but also created 1 lakh junk pages and google had blacklisted the site.

Due to the efforts of Ganesh Acharya our Chief Media Officer we were able to come back, and back into the top 100.

Healthcare India as a forum was created to address the lack of access, poor quality, and improved outcomes for millions of Indians. We believe this is possible only through technology and better processes. This new recognitiion helps us to strive harder to improve healthcare in India.

Also a shout out to our friends from HCIT and New Age Healthcare for being listed in the top 100 as well. Making India proud.

Below is the list of the top 100 Websites and influencers.

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Healthcare Delivery

Regular patients are severely affected as India battled Corona Virus

In the last week of April 2020, a septuagenarian in the state of J&K who was a renal dialysis patient for 2 years, was asked to get his next round of dialysis from a private nursing home as the hospital where he normally went for treatment refused the dialysis procedure since the entire hospital was converted into a COVID care center. The nursing home neither had the apt infrastructure nor the skilled personnel to handle any kind of complications that is common during a dialysis. Unfortunately, the patient died in less than a week. Another dialysis patient in Mumbai had to wait for 7 hours for treatment as he was not carrying his covid test result report. Around 1,30,000 patients are on dialysis in India and most of them depend on private dialysis centers.

In another caustic case, last week, a 25 yr old pregnant woman in Delhi, visited 2 of the leading government hospitals in Delhi for antenatal care. Both the hospitals denied her admission as she was not Covid-19 positive. As a result, she visited 6 hospitals and maternity clinics in next 48hrs before giving birth outside AIIMS. Many hospitals and nursing homes are completely shut even if one case comes up in them.

There are a plethora of such cases rising across the country as our healthcare system is under stress from managing the contagion outbreak. This is despite the fact that the Government of India has asked state chief secretaries to ensure that hospitals and clinics do not ask for a Covid test report from every patient who requires medical treatment. This raises red-flags and serious questions on the local authorities and regulatory bodies who have also threatened to cancel the operating license of hospitals and clinics if they turn away any non-Covid patient. Patients also fear the escalated economic cost if their treatment cost is not claimed or reimbursed as not all nursing homes and clinics fall under health insurance policies.

Similar danger mounts on Cancer and TB patients. India has the world’s largest TB load of 25%. In Mumbai, due to COVID, lack of adherence to TB drug regimen has risen to 40% from 15%. A significant decrease in TB notification has been witnessed which indicated that access to a TB center and subsequent diagnosis and reporting has been severely hit. These are dangerous signs which are being ignored. A TB patient can infect 10-15 more, and such patient can become a breeding-ground of new Coronavirus cases as Covid hits hard on low immunity patients. Many senior oncologists have claimed that due to difficulty in travelling during lockdown, many hospitals not providing regular treatment, hospitals shutting down and fear of contracting covid, have resulted in a delayed diagnosis of cancer patients which can push them to an advanced stage of cancer.

There has to be clear and stringent guidelines by MoH to each state health authorities highlighting the delirious effect of not providing critical care to non-Covid cases. State should ensure that no patient is denied treatment for any ailment by a hospital (government or private). Instead of shutting down the entire hospital even for one covid case, a wiser approach of creating zones within the hospital can be implemented. Online, phone consultation and Tele-medicine modules should be made widespread thorough proper communication channels.

Our healthcare infrastructure is one of the weakest in the world with a lack of adequately qualified health care professionals adding to the woes. We certainly can’t afford to inflict more burden on the already fragile healthcare services by denying treatment to those who are in need.

About the author

Dr Sumeet Kad is a Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence Leader, focusing on leveraging technology to create a model for affordable care

Categories
Public Health

Covid19 – Data shows happy days will have to wait…

Lockdown 2.0 was supposed to get over today. Unfortunately, Lockdown 3.0 has been announced and we are now sitting at the cusp of 40K cases. We have gone from 20K cases to 40K cases in less than 2weeks, whereas the first 20K cases came in 2.5 months. Various states are showing a spike in cases, while new states are showing some disturbing trends. Is this the explosion that we were waiting for? Are we on the path of the US and Europe?

We look at the data and try to form a picture of the situation of India. We also take a look at the Indian States in clusters of the Encouraging States, the Worry States and the Emerging Bad. We also use CPM19 to see if we can predict how 17th May 2020 may look like for India.

Recovery Rate Update

We had introduced the recovery rate as a new parameter in our last article. In the 10 days that have passed since our last article, let us look at the recovery rates now. Green means improved from the last article and red means deterioration from the last article. Yellow means no significant change.

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Except for Spain all countries have either improved their recovery rates or stayed the same. France continues to recover poorly.

India With the World

India is on its 49th day after the 100th case. The 7 day rolling average of the growth rate for the country is 5.95%. When, compared with other countries studied it is the highest among all countries on their 49th day (See table)

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India, has clearly not followed the 42 day theory. To counter this we hypothesized that India should be treated as an amalgamation of several different countries. Hence, we broke India in 7 different parts basis cases reported. Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu were taken separately and assumed to be a separate country. The remaining states were considered as ROI. When we look at it in this format, most of the states with a high number of cases are still at least 9-10 days away from the 42-day mark, except Maharashtra.

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As, it can be observed by the above table, most of the states are considerably slower than the other countries in the study as on that day. Even Maharashtra is slower than USA on the 40th day. ROI which is on its 45th day is also on the cusp of crossing below the 5% threshold. ROI had crossed the 5% threshold on the 42nd day but due to emergence of cases in Punjab it has gone above the 5% threshold again today.

India and Its States

In previous articles we had identified clusters of the state as

  • The Worry States – These were the states that had shown high growth in lockdown 1.0. These states were Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajashtan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal
  • The Encouraging States – These states were those that had shown signs of slowness in lockdown 1.0. These states are Andhra Pradesh, Harayana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telengana

In this article we introduce a new category

  • The Emerging Bad – These states have shown sudden spurt of cases in lockdown 2.0. These states are Bihar and Punjab.

The Worry States

The Good news is that all the “Worry States”, 7 day rolling average of growth rates has now come below 10% (See Graph). The bad news is that even at this rate these states will continue to add somewhere between 1500 to 2000 cases daily.

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As you can see in the graph, states are showing trends of slowing down with UP and Rajasthan seemingly going below 5%, but until states like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi come well below 5% there is little hope of a slowdown in these “Worry States”

These states are characterized by

  • High Positive% – The Positive%, which is total cases upon total tests is very high for these states. Except for UP and Rajasthan, the positive% is higher than 4% (the national average). Maharashtra and Delhi have a positive% higher than 7%
  • Low Outcome % – Only 26% of the cases have seen an outcome in these states. Outcome means that either a recovery or death has happened in that particular case. This is lower than the national average of 30%
  • Low Recovery Rate – The recovery rate is 86% which means in these states out of 100 outcomes, 86 people recovered. For states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and West Bengal it is lower than 80% which means that for every 4 people who recover there is one death.
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We will keep a watch on these three parameters to see if they improve over time.

The Encouraging States

Most of the states are now well settled under 5% growth rate except for Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Andhra Pradesh also seems to be moving towards the 5% mark. Tamil Nadu is one blip on these states as after being well below 5% for a while it has now started moving up and has broken the 5% threshold. Tamil Nadu will be the state to watch

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These States are Characterized by

  • Low Positive% – Most of the states are well below 2% except Telangana and Tamil Nadu. Telangana also might be an aberration as the state has not updated its test numbers since 29th April.
  • High Outcome% – Almost 50% of the cases have seen an outcome in these states. Except for Andhra Pradesh, almost all states have an outcome% higher than 50%
  • High Recovery Rate – All the states have a recovery rate in excess of 90%. This means for every death in these states there are 9 people who recover. Kerala and Harayana infact are almost at 100% recovery rate.
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The Emerging Bad

Bihar and Punjab have shown growth trends in the past seven days that has motivated us to look at these states closely

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These states have a poor outcome%(this is because recency of cases) , although they seem to be doing okay with respect to recovery rate and positive%. These states will be monitored closely

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17th May 2020 – Where will we be?

The lockdown continues till 17th May 2020 albeit with some ease in restrictions. With economic activity starting again, the situation does not look like improving in the next two weeks. Using CPM19 we have tried to make some predictions as to where we might be on 17th May.

Although our daily growth rate will go down below 5%, but in terms of cases reported we will be hitting a peak by 17th May.

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Total cases according to the CPM19 Model will hit 75K. Our exponential growth curve would have started flattening but as of now it seems it will flatten only after reaching 100K cases.

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We have been in lockdown now for 40 days. In these 40 days we have ensured that we dont have a situation that overwhelms our medical system. But we have also failed to flatten the curve. At this juncture, if we see another exponential growth then Indian numbers will be very high and will probably end up going well past Europe by end of May. Instead of easing lockdown, the need of the hour is for a more stricter lockdown. Easing will just increase cases. Also as temperature is not playing any role in stopping this pandemic, India faces some tough days ahead.

On a brighter note, India seems to recovering well from the Covid19 with high recovery rates. If this trend continues then we may have a situation like Germany, high infections but low mortality rates. All we can now do is to try to stay as safe as possible because the next few days are going to be very risky.

About the Author

Sanjeev Prakash is an Analytics and Marketing professional with more than 12 years of experience in Analytics, Data Management, Sales, Brand Management, Corporate Communications, Market Research and Customer Relationship Management. Sanjeev has an MBA from IMT Ghaziabad and a degree in economics.

Categories
Public Health

Good, Bad and Ugly of COVID 19

By Kiten Meena

Change is difficult for all not only human. If you look back in human evolution you will find survival of the fittest. Change is never easy whether it is at work or at life specially when it is thrown at us without our buy-in. Many of us did not see COVID 19 coming. Hence, the resistance to accept the change it brought in our lives.

You have two choices – accept the change and find peace with it or rebel and go through the consequences.

Let’s start with good. The lockdown has brought us closer to our loved ones. I for sure have thought, what if these were my last 30 days of my life? What kind of legacy I want to leave behind? I want to be remembered as the perfect mother, a decent housewife, a great daughter, a helpful colleague and a best friend. Now, I have more time to spend with my family and loved ones. No more running Monday to Friday and then Saturday and Sunday to check off the list. COVID has taught me and reminded me of Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi, Can I live a simple and peaceful life with bare minimum? Probably, we all could. Hence my request to look around and find happiness in what you have, what you have achieved and how you can help the needy or next-door neighbor. Once you accept the change you will find the ways to make best of it. Though it’s not easy, it is doable.

During such times, we are tested for our patience, endurance and adaptability quotient. At work, I have been asked to do more and better. As a working mom at home, it is quite challenging, when I feel, I am on the verge of breakdown. I look at my sister or friend who work at hospital. When we are locked down, she still had to go to work, risk her life and her loved ones to make life better for someone else. I find myself ashamed of not able to take this on. When my fellow nurses and healthcare staff going to much more than any of us are doing at home in our own comfort and away from sick and unhealthy. Imagine yourself in their shoes and you will find yourself – wearing masks and taking precaution, not only for you but all those brave souls who are risking their lives.

That’s not all, if you look closely you will find the worst affected ones – the small shopkeeper or hourly wages folks who barely had ends meet before COVID 19 and now struggling to survive each day. If you could just see past your uncomfortable zone, someone who lost family member to COVID 19 with no fault of their own. The anguish, pain of the young fellow who lost his job to COVID 19. Small business owners with loads of loan to pay and no hope of getting anywhere in near future. The mental state of such a human being at the verge of suicidal.

I found myself blessed and I want to share the joy I have with my kids, my family, friends and you readers. Reach out to your old friends whom you always thought of calling and never had time to make that call. Locked down in your own house is not easy for any of us but we can still do meditation, yoga, stretching to make ourselves ready for what’s coming next. Keep that hope alive, pass that unused food and items to the next-door neighbor.

Each drop of water counts – makes a difference. When you will look back after 10 years from now and recall COVID 19 – you should have a smile on your face and be proud of yourself.  Until we find cure or vaccine to control COVID 19, my fellow friends I plead you to do your best to beat this – by keeping social distancing, wash hands, cover your face with mask and avoid gatherings. COVID 19 makes me find myself and taught me to accept today and enjoy it to the fullest as future is unknown for a short while.

About the author

Kiten Meena

A result-driven, enthusiastic healthcare professional with years of experience in healthcare information technology in the successful delivery of critical and strategic projects. The initial few years spent honing my analysis skills and building healthcare products.

Kiten has extensive experience in working with healthcare delivery, clinical optimization, health plans along with healthcare regulatory and compliance projects. With a Master’s in Healthcare Administration from the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy – I am interested in taking up challenges and work in patient care settings to improve the overall healthcare experience for all.