Prevention better than cure
Looking at the
statistics that come from the health sector we find that many
succumb to diseases that could be controlled or prevented. For
example, diabetes has become one of the leading killer diseases.
In actual fact, it could be prevented through healthy lifestyles
and proper diet. The situation is getting worse and it could
very well become the Number One killer disease. It is no secret
the sedentary lifestyles and the junk food consumed by persons
with busy work schedules or those who have fallen gullible
victims of TV commercials are among the causes for the huge
increase of diabetes patients in our society.
Coronary heart diseases too are on the increase. Then there
are also diseases caused by excessive drinking and smoking and
the use of various dangerous drugs. Treating such diseases takes
long time and is often a costly affair. Much money spent by the
state could be saved if we could reduce the incidence of such
diseases. Hence, the importance of preventive medicine and
community medicine cannot be exaggerated.
It is necessary to change our strategy to give priority to
preventive medicine while developing and improving curative
procedures and practices. Health education of the public should
not be confined to informing them about infections and outbreaks
of infectious diseases. The importance of a healthy lifestyle
and the necessity of having balanced diets too should be
stressed. It is necessary to target select audience groups like
students, public servants and working population at work places
to send a strong message about the need and benefits of such a
More funds should be allocated and school curricula exchanged
to give emphasis to physical education and sports activities.
All media should be harnessed for this purpose. Media could play
a very positive role in any public awareness program.
What is also necessary is a changed mindset among the health
professionals and authorities. There is a growing and excessive
tendency to sit on one’s laurels or to blow one’s own trumpet
while discarding all criticism as destructive and
conspiratorial. We could cite the example of the bureaucratic
lethargy shown in the case of the first Rubella death last March
in Matara. Having found out that it was a case of negligence the
authorities waited six or seven months for another death to
happen to issue a charge sheet to the miscreant.
It also took more than seven months to take action against
the errant drug companies. If the Ministry took the same
enthusiasm that they display in blowing its own trumpet on that
issue and acted in time the subsequent unfortunate incidents may
not have happened.
Take the case of Dengue prevention. The authorities waited
for some time to act. By then the disease has almost peaked.
However, with the decline of the numbers affected now there is
complacency and lethargy. Are we waiting for the next Dengue
epidemic? What has happened to the report of the Cuban experts
and the report on that report by local experts? Are we getting
down Cuban BTI or are we abandoning the idea? What is the
position of the local BTI? It was loudly announced that we would
use the local BTI only to find that it is yet to be perfected
before usage. What steps are being taken to assist the
production of local BTI? These are questions among many that
could be raised but for the moment they would suffice.
Festival of jokers
said to be festivals of the oppressed. Then what are elections?
Festivals of the common man or festivals of jokers? To the
common man elections are solemn occasions at which he performs
his civic duty. To the serious politician it is a chance to
serve the people. To some other aspirants to public office it is
like buying a lottery.
If he wins, he alone will win and the voter will lose. He
considers it a chance to earn for seven generations. To some
others - ‘political turncoats’ it is time to jump to and fro and
raise the stakes higher than their two-cents worth.
But for those stuntmen in politics it is a chance to “show
their colours”, meet unimaginable audiences and perhaps, bask in
publicity glory. Now that elections are round the corner we
would be able to see a festival of these jokers too.