The sick in society

One is at a loss to take the occasionally published fact that India is the world’s second most populous country as complimenting its steadily expanding masses or otherwise. Further, the frequently flashed news that India’s share in the global disease burden of many afflictions such as Malaria, Diabetes, Tuberculosis, Cancer of mouth and others surpasses all other countries across the world mirrors several National features particularly (a) Poor awareness of the preventable causes of many illnesses, (b) Societal apathy towards vigilance in keeping living and open spaces free from the rotting residues from residences, hotels, hostels, hospitals and places where crowds throng in large numbers for celebration of festivals, birthdays of eminent persons of yesteryears, locations attracting tourists who litter and so on, (c) Inadequate infrastructure and medical services in the healthcare sector, (d) Unchecked sale of spurious as well as substandard drugs, (e) Cost of hospitalisation beyond the ability of a very large section of the country’s population, and (f) Food consumption habits that stoke various illnesses, particularly gastro-intestinal afflictions.

The feature that people who lived in the distant past did not have (a) Hospitals of our times, (b) Medicines being prescribed by modern medical practitioners, (c) Diagnostic tools that are extensively used in modern sickness care, (d) Knowledge of diseases and their underlying causes, (e) Doctors at the beck-and-call of patients and so on may have played a major role in their life style focused on avoiding carelessness in the matter of safeguarding their well-being at large. In total contrast, with all these inadequacies having been addressed to whatever extent may have made the people of our times take healthcare issues in a casual way.

The makeover of society that comprised joint families to a major extent until a few decades ago to its present structure of nuclear families may have a great deal to do with the well-being of the family member on many counts. The presence of elders, given their decades of experience based on do’s and don’ts of daily life bearing on well-being, provides a glaring contrast to the-now-missing feature of nuclear families with nobody around as source of timely advice on occasions of illness. Although the cornucopia of knowledge stock that the elders provided is portrayed as home remedies and many good samaritans have brought it in easy-to-follow book form, the books seem to be resting in the book-shelf of the society’s literati.

A small section of the land’s population, may be less than 10 percent, has the wherewithal to bear the financial burden of diseases of their respective families. With the joint family (truly perceived as a miniature society) system gone, the sick member of the family, moved to the hospital, missing the psycho-social support, is not only alone but sadly feels lonely. That is the plight of the sick in modern society.