Global agencies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) publish findings of their surveys on many occasions with data and information relating to most of the countries across the world focusing on the status of the health of respective populations. As if to voice the health concerns of the land’s masses in tandem with WHO, India’s Prime Minister, who launched the Swachata Abhiyan on Oct. 2, 2014, appears on the small screen with the telling message that swachata (cleanliness) takes us on the path of swastyatha (wellness). But, the sections of the land’s 135-crore headcount still not falling in line is not showing perceptible reduction in numbers, going by daily reports with graphics of untidy spaces in city limits, such as in Mysuru as projected by this daily regularly. This brings us to the issue of the land’s disease burden riding on its garbage mass, throwing into focus role of the medical profession in mitigating misery of the masses.
The establishment of educational institutions in different branches of medicine to train the professionals, hospitals with equipment for diagnosis and treatment and also production of drugs in the country, together seem to have got outpaced by both the rise in the country’s human population and the section falling into the clutches of many life-threatening and contagious afflictions.
The intimate connect between diseases, both common, such as allergies and the dreaded ones such as tuberculosis, malaria, cancer and rheumatic heart disease on one side and lifestyle marked by living in insanitary conditions, inappropriate food consumption, over-indulgence in habits of smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages, sedentary life and so on doesn’t seem to be understood to the extent required even by the country’s literati, not to the talk of the unlettered sections of the society. Practitioners of medicine in our times, unlike their counterparts of the past, are at a distinct disadvantage in not finding enough time to get a clear picture of the nature of ailment of their patients with the help of both diagnostic tools and narrative of the patient.
The names of diseases, findings of the diagnostic tests and the drugs prescribed by the doctors, being in English language, are Greek and Latin as it were to most people seeking medical help. In this backdrop, the report in a section of the press, based on a study carried out among first-year-medical students in India, that more than a third of them confessed candidly saying “I am in it only for money” should alert the land’s masses to remind themselves to be wary about cleanliness.