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Need to wage war against NCDs, not just COVID-19: Dr Prathap C Reddy

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On the eve of our 73rd Independence Day, Dr Prathap C Reddy, Chairman, Apollo Hospitals Group reminds us that just as we are combating COVID-19, a war against NCDs must be an equally important imperative for India as the prevalence of these diseases is becoming younger

It has been an unprecedented medical crisis, the number of COVID-19 cases recorded worldwide has passed the 18 million mark and understandably, there is great amount of fear and anxiety. Yet, we must be hopeful, as scientists are working against the clock at an indescribable pace, to develop a vaccine. India is at the forefront of this effort with several companies having made excellent progress and I am optimistic that within a year, we will have a vaccine.

However, an equally great concern is that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which include cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, respiratory ailments etc.  pose a bigger threat to the future of humanity and account for close to 80 per cent of global mortality.  Bearing this hard reality in mind, it is very important that patients battling chronic diseases do not neglect their health any longer on account of the pandemic and seek timely medical attention. Further, a delay could also lead to emergencies on account of uncontrolled progression of NCDs, choking the medical ecosystem in our country.

Overcoming this crisis and a resolute determination to be free from NCDs must be our collective goal on Independence Day 2020. Just as we are combating COVID-19, similarly, a war against NCDs must be an equally important imperative for India as the prevalence of these diseases is becoming younger.

According to the World Economic Forum, by 2030, the global economic impact would be over $30 trillion and India’s share in it could be around $ 3.8 trillion, unless remedial action is taken up rightaway to mitigate the loss of lives due to NCDs. A silent crisis for the country, NCDs can lead to serious socioeconomic consequences and an adverse impact on the GDP.

While 2020 will be known for the crushing impact of the pandemic, yet the second decade of the 21st century ushered in game changing advances in healthcare fueled by Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Robotics, 3D Printing, and many such developments, which will all be transformational in the journey of healing. In addition, healthcare in post pandemic world will be defined by enhanced accessibility and convenience, as care models will move along with the individual and be accessible, whenever and wherever they need it. I look forward to the future of healthcare, which would be free of boundaries of any kind.

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