Healthcare Delivery Public Health

How to survive an heart attack ?

Recently I visited the Philips Innovation Center in Bangalore. While talking to Dr Mabel who had come there to give a demonstration of the lastest Philips Automated External Defibrillator (AED) I came to know of some interesting facts.

Did you know that 7,00,000 people have heart attacks in India each year. and out of them only 10 % survive? This is because a patient needs to get to the hospital within an hour of the initial cheat pain.

Artificial defibrillation just at the moment the heart stops beating can revive almost 80-85 % of the patients. For more on the visit and the demo, please watch my vidoe from the center above.

As always comments and suggestions are welcome.

Healthcare Delivery Public Health

Shot through the heart: What is the Government doing to screen for heart diseases

Cardiovascular diseases continue to be the scourge of India. As discussed in my earlier post, India has probably the largest pool of heart patients in the world, today. The number of heart patients today stands at around 45 million India. So in the run up to the world heart day, on the 29th of September I am doing a three part series on the heart issues in India. The post you are reading is the second part. If you want to read the first part please click here.

So the natural question is what is the Government doing about it ?

To get the answers of this question and many others like this, I spoke to Mr Amol Naikawadi Joint managing director at Indus Health Plus and a member of the CII sub-committee on healthcare.

Amol has been running preventive health initiatives in Pune and the state of Maharashtra and he gave me a very interesting insight to the problem. Some of them are shared below

Insight 1- Gender and location may play a part but the gap is coming down rapidly

According to him heart problems affect all sections of society. But interestingly though earlier men were more affected than women, today the gap has narrowed down considerably. Also there is no clear demarcation between urban and rural Indians when it comes to cardiac ailments.

Insight 2- Heart problems are industry and job agnostic

Though people think heart problems affect IT and other industries where the role is more sedentary, but increasingly it has started affecting people working in all sectors. It is your life style that determines your risk exposure to cardiac problems.

Insight 3- Younger people are more aware of the situation

Many young people in their 30’s are increasingly coming for preventive health check-ups to organizations like Indus Health Plus. This is due to increased prevalence as well as increased awareness of the problems facing the country.

To counter this issue and to get more people to get into the preventive mode, the Government of India has launched scheme under the National Health Mission (NHM) to cover all those who don’t have access to quality healthcare. The scheme would cover both the rural and urban poor, a good indication that the disease today affects both.

The objective is two fold

  • Awareness & Detection
  • Education on lifestyle and stress factors

The plan was to cover Hypertension and Diabetes both indicators and predecessors to cardiac issues and eventually to cover conditions like cancer. The program is funded by the central government, which has allocated thousands of crores of rupees for the scheme. When launched the paln was to cover 40 crore people but after 2 years only 4.5 crore people have been screened. So obviously the program is running into delay and there are not too many people. In addition to this the NHM already has schemes running to reduce infant mortality rate among the urban poor.

“Though the processes and procedures are clearly laid down in the policy documents, but their implementation as always has led to a lot being desired” reflected Amol.

There are also schemes for those with finances to be given tax incentives under 80 D in order to encourage them to undergo preventive screenings.

Finally families earning less than 1 lakh can also look to Government support for preventive care.

One of the most interesting Government schemes comes from the state of Kerala. They launched a scheme called the ‘Karunya Benevolent Fund’ which raises money from the Kerala State Lottery.

‘Karunya Benevolent Fund is providing financial assistance to under-privileged people suffering from acute ailments like Cancer, Haemophilia, Kidney and Heart diseases and for Palliative Care. The amount for the health scheme is raised through lottery. This welfare measure will be helpful to those who suffer from ailments, the cost of treatment of which are proved to be unbearable to lower and even middle strata of society.’

The income generated through the sale of Karunya Lottery is exclusively devoted for extending financial assistance to the purpose. Karunya Lottery comes out with an attractive structure offering Rs. 1 crore as 1st prize.

Source : Kerala Government Website

For more on this article please click here

So one might wonder if the government is doing so much, what about private sector? What are they doing? For that please wait for the concluding part 3 of the series….




Healthcare Delivery Public Health

Shot through the heart: How heart troubles are complicating the India story

My grandmother always used to tell me that working hard 9-5 and having a good night’s sleep were the secrets of a healthy heart. And she also told me that heart problems were a 60’s thing (people in their 60’s)

Her statement could not have been truer as she remained healthy her working life and dies at the age of 65 as you could have guessed of an heart attack. But times have changed.

Today 30 is the new 60’s.

According to statistics from the WHO, India has the largest cardio vascular burden in the world. 1 in 5 Indians die because of cardiovascular diseases. By 2020 the figure will jump to 1 in 3. Currently there are about 45 million heart patients in India. Obviously this figure is much greater as many in the rural areas don’t have the infrastructure to detect heart ailments.

There are two key reasons why such data has come out in the open.

  1. There is a key shift in mortality due to non-communicable life style diseases. So about 50 years ago while malaria and typhoid would have killed many people, today it is Diabetes, Hypertension and Cardiovascular diseases. So clearly mechanization and urbanization has its own perils.
  2. There is increased awareness and screening.  Many more people have been empowered by the media and other social sites. These people read articles like the one you are reading now and become aware of the situation and proactively reach out to care providers to undergo screening.

A combination of these two factors see’s India as the diabetes capital of the world. Indians have the tendency to develop diabetes a good 10-15 years ahead of their western counterpart. The average Indian develops the condition at the age of 45 years.

As the world celebrates ‘World Heart Day’ on the 29th of September I have decided to do a three part series beginning with this post. The second post in the  series would look at what is the government doing to face the challenges posed by cardiovascular diseases and the third post would look at how the private healthcare sector is working on innovative strategies to counter the issue.

I will be back soon and till then comments and suggestions are always welcome…



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….


Healthcare Technology

Intex launches a phone for the visually impaired


India has more than 37 Million visually impaired citizens. Almost 50 % of them have this condition due to cataract and refractive visual impairment. This segment has often been ignored by most products and they do depend on others for their daily needs.

But now thanks to Intex the visually impaired can communicate on their own. Intex recently launched ‘Vision’ a phone for the visually impaired that has braille digits on its key pad and the keys call out the numbers while being pressed.

There is also a provision to store upto 4 emergency numbers, which can be accessed by pushing a button behind the phone.

In addition the phone has a toech, FM radio, MP 3 player and hearing aid ear piece.

For more on the technical specifications of the phone please visit the Fone Arena site here.

Now for my take on this new product.

I believe this would mark the beginning where the commercial companies would start targeting the section of the population with disabilities. This is an unexplored market in India and as this is a first of its kind product it should do well. So in my opinion this is a unique product and will help expand the market for this section of the society and for other manufacturers as well.

Launching this product with the National Association of the blind is a good idea as well. And ideally traditional distribution channels may not work. I would ideally look at hospitals like Narayana Nethralaya or Aravind Eye Hospital as an ideal partner to distribute these phones.

My other concern is the lack of traditional distribution channels in the rural hinterland, where these phones would be a boon for the visually impaired. So maybe exploring a tie up with an FMCG player should help ? I know it sounds ridiculous but just trying to think out of the box.

Finally the pricing seems to be perfect, at Rs 2,500 this is a affordable phone and should put the market size at roughly at Rs 92,500,000,000. That is assuming all of the visually impaired can afford a phone, which is going to be very unlikely.

So this is my opinion on this new product, would love to know your views on the same.