Health is back on the agenda this March 2016

Hello All and trust you have been having a very healthy start to the year.

This month I am planning to focus on health and health advisory as means to maintaining your health. My first post would be a focus on Cane Sugar as a replacement for the regular white sugar. Recently when we ran out of white sugar, I had to run out to a super market close by and all they had was packets of Cane sugar, brown in color. Though not sure what to do, I was in an ambitious mood, and decided  to experiment with it. The post will focus on understanding if this is a healthy replacement or only a fad.


How Big Data Can Help Healthcare

Of the many advantages of technology since the arrival of computers is the ease with which data can be analyzed to predict probable challenges as well solutions across various industries. By observing the prevalent trend and drawing comparisons, data analysis has the ability to greatly improve efficiency and decision-making capacity, based on solid statistics and research.

However, when faced with large data sets that include various patterns and trends, traditional analysis procedures often fall inadequate. This is why more and more industries are increasingly moving towards Big Data, especially in the field of healthcare. The Philips Innovation Campus recently presented evidence backing the need for such analysis.

In a country like India, where the population is huge, the resultant pressures are visible in the infrastructure and healthcare system. It is common knowledge that majority of the people in the country do not have health insurance and given the high cost of treatment, families are often forced into financial crisis. While there are several good hospitals and healthcare facilities available in the tier one cities, many of them multinational players, the scenario is quite different in the tier two and rural areas.

Both the affordability and the availability of medical care are within reach for most people in the major metros. In the urban and semi-urban areas though, one finds that private players are usually replaced by nursing homes and district hospitals with a noticeable drop in the number of doctors available. This however, does serve as a possible emerging market for healthcare systems.

Of course in the rural areas, it is the NGOs and the government that are required to be more involved through community and primary health centers. When compared with other countries like U.S., Western Europe, Japan, China, Brazil, Korea, South Africa and Thailand, India lags far behind in terms of beds, physicians and nurses. Not to mention a looming shortage of qualified doctors.

According to surveys conducted, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, obesity and so on were the leading cause of death in India in 2008. Despite the rise in CVDs, the country has only about 5000 cardiologists with 300 new doctors added per year, and experts estimate that we also need twice the number of radiologists.

The biggest healthcare challenge facing the country today is not only the acute shortage of doctors and beds but also the affordability of treatment in Tier two and three cities and the rural areas. In such a scenario where there exist various contrasts within the same country, big data analytics can go a long way in improving the quality of treatment across all regions while keeping in mind its cost.

Big data analysis is of immense help when the data is too large and complex, i.e., it is difficult to capture, curate, store, search, share, transfer and analyze. By including descriptive, diagnostic, operational, predictive and prescriptive analytical values, big data analysis can be used fruitfully to mitigate future risks and plan the road ahead. Based on the information, healthcare facilities in India can be addressed better. The management of resources where there is a concerning lack, investment in suitable medical infrastructure and the workflow in hospitals can all be improved to a great degree.

What do you think? How practical and useful will such analysis be? Do you think it will in fact lead to on ground changes?

Public Health Wellness

Is Olive Oil the answer to India’s Health problems ?

In the recent past many people known to me have asked me to write about the cooking oil scene in India. One of those is my aunt Poornima who is very particular about her health and has always wondered about the merits and demerits of Olive Oil.

My aunt is right. Last year India consumed 17 million tonnes of cooking oil. Oil has always been the mainstay of Indian cooking considering that the cooking method always employs frying and in some cases deep frying. And this has been repeatedly pointed out as one of the main reasons why almost a third of Indians are over weight.


How the humble Idli can solve the nutrition problem in India


Idli or rice cake could solve some problems of wellness and nutrition in the country.

According the the recent breakfast survey done at 4 major metros in India, Idli-sambar came out on tops as the most nutritious breakfast. This combination won over other traditional foods like Parathas and Modern additions like Bread. A mix of rice and urad dal (White Lentil) , the Idli is an ideal mix of protien, fat andcarbohydrates with the Sambar providing vitamins and minerals.

Needless to say Chennai (madras) came out tops as the city where almost 60 % of those surveyed consumed breakfast. Interestingly most of the nation did not consume breakfast or did not consume enough of it.

Food from Kolkatta was considered too high in Maida, while the one from Delhi was high in Oil. Mumbai does not have traditional breakfast and most people consume bread.

The research was sponsored by Kellogg s who have been trying for last 20 years to get some foothold in the Indian breakfast table.

Interestingly Tamilnadu chief Minister Dr Jayalalitha inaugurated a corporation run restaurant earlier this year which would serve Idli-Sambar for Rs 10. 13 such outlets were opened in February and there were plans to open 100 more in the year. For more on that story please read here.

Historically Idli was first mentioned by the Kannada historian and King Someshwara III in 1170 AD. It seems to have been influenced by the Indonesian style of steam cooking.

For those keen to learn how to cook this dish do check out this You tube video.

So can the humble idli solve our nutrition issues? Should the north adopt this super star of the south Indian kitchen ?

as always comments and concerns welcome….



A disposable Safe Syringe from India

Did you know according to the WHO, 21 million cases of Hepatitis B was spread due to unsafe syringes?

That means these were syringes that were already infected and not destroyed properly and were reused causing this infection.

According to Marc Koska the inventor of the Single use syringe, almost 65 % of the syringes used in India are unsafe. A simple statistic that supports this fact is that around 5 Billion i injections are given in India, but only 1.5 Billion syringes are manufactured in India. This data was from a WHO and World Bank report some years ago.

Clearly shows that many syringes are reused in this country.

To solve this problem a doctor from Kerala Dr Baby Manoj PP has come up with what could be a big step in solving this problem. He calls it the ‘peanut safe syringe’. Dr Manoj has been working on it since 2006 and finally the design was patented in 2009.

It won the national research development corporation’s innovation award in 2011.

To learn more about the syringe I have sent a message to Dr Manoj and hopefully we will hear from him soon.