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….




Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Management Thinker, Marketer, Healthcare Professional Communicator and Ideation exponent

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