8 Ways to make India healthy and wealthy

Pharmaceutical drugs are no panacea for human suffering either. A close look at the peer reviewed leading medical journals show that American medicine, which we in India follow in Toto frequently causes more harm than good! In hospital adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in the US affect 2.2 million patients. Antibiotics are the next menace for the environment both for humans and all other creatures as shown in previous article. Dr Richard Besser, of the CDC, in 1995, said the number of unnecessary antibiotics prescribed annually for viral infections was 20 million. Dr Besser, in 2003, now refers to tens of millions of unnecessary antibiotics. The number of unnecessary medical and surgical procedures performed annually is 7.5 million. The number of people exposed to unnecessary hospitalization annually is 8.9 million. The total number of iatrogenic deaths is 783,936. It is evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US. The 2001 heart disease annual death rate is 699,697, the annual cancer death rate, 553,251.
A report from the Centre for Health Programme Evaluation in Australia tells a similar story. This study looked specifically at the doctor patient ratio.  “There is now documented evidence that adverse events associated with medical interventions have a seriously deleterious effect on population health. However, this literature does not indicate whether or not the net effect of an increase in the doctor supply is positive or negative. There are, additionally, other mechanisms by which an increase in the doctor supply could reduce the quality and length of life. This paper revisits two hypotheses concerning doctor induced poor health. Econometric results using Australian cross-sectional data are presented. They are consistent with the hypothesis that an increase in the doctor supply is associated with an increase in mortality.”
The authors give the following explanations for this mess. “That increasing the doctor supply may cause the population to become increasingly dependent on medical services to maintain their health. People neglect lifestyle factors. Put another way, responsibility shifts from the individual to the doctor.”
More doctors and less health is a proven fact in fourteen other industrialised countries, from Japan to US, audited in 2000 AD. Please take these findings seriously, before we start the same killing spree as our politicians want more medical schools and larger hospitals in India. Each politician worth his salt wants a medical college. Every Chief Minister wants an All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) like hospital in every state capital. The truth would be that it will be better for the country and its populace even if the existing AIIMS is closed and the money thus saved is being used to upgrade the hard working tired horses like the Safdarjung-like Hospitals in the capital. The only inconvenience might be for our politicians and top bureaucrats in Delhi! They claim that AIIMS does research. May I ask as to which area of medicine’s wisdom has advanced by the research done in AIIMS since its inception? “Knowledge advances NOT by repeating known facts, but by REFUTING false dogmas in any field,” wrote Karl Popper.
Audit on medical research, published in the best journals in the world, has revealed that nearly 90% of the research funded by the industry could not be replicated independently! This figure jumps to 95% in cancer research, most of which is plain fraud. David Eddy of Stanford showed that only 15% of what doctors do is based on sound science and 85% on wrong research.
Instead of the quick fix idea of more hospitals, doctors and specialists, here is what we need to do urgently for our healthcare. This would make India healthy and wealthy.
  1. Clean drinking water, sanitation of the best variety, three meals a day for everyone uncontaminated by animal and/or human excreta
  2. A roof on top in place of the star-lit sky
  3. Schooling for all kids and specially girl kids
  4. Delayed marriage for girls for lowering the fertility rates
  5. Better nutrition for pregnant mothers, especially in the first trimester to reduce still births and to beget healthy offsprings
  6. Better sanitation for decreasing perinatal mortality
  7. Encouraging normal home birthing by strengthening the specially trained midwife services in far flung villages
  8. Avoidance of cooking gas laden with carbon monoxide from coming into the house, using smokeless choolas, and introducing healthy habits in schools through Yoga and meditation
“It is easier to argue that something nobody believes in actually exists than it is to argue that something everybody believes in is unreal.” – Samuel R Delany
(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, chairman of the State Health Society’s Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London.)

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