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Kolkata workshop sounds non-communicable diseases alert

Doctors said if hypertension is left uncontrolled, it could lead to a stroke; obesity can lead to coronary artery diseases, liver diseases and others

Subhajoy Roy | Published 20.12.22, 07:59 AM
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Representational image

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An ever increasing number of people are suffering from stroke, cardiac ailments, diabetes and liver diseases, a trend that doctors and healthcare administrators said reflects the need to focus on preventing non-communicable diseases (NCD).

Doctors cited two examples: if hypertension is left uncontrolled, it could lead to a stroke some years down the line; obesity can lead to coronary artery diseases, liver diseases and other ailments.


An overwhelming majority of energy and resources are spent on treating patients who have already developed multiple complications. That approach is costly and painful for the patient.

There will always be a shortage of doctors to treat critical patients. So, stress on prevention will reduce the load and also keep many patients from reaching a critical stage, said a health-care administrator.

The doctors and administrators were sharing their thoughts at a workshop organised by the NGO Liver Foundation, Bengal, to discuss the challenges and way forward for philanthropic and not-for-profit organisations working in the field of health care.

Health education, increased awareness and robust primary health care could bring about a change, said gastroenterologist Asokananda Konar.

“Instances of heart attack and stroke, cancer, liver diseases and chronic respiratory diseases are on the rise. Health education will increase awareness among people, which will prompt them to take proper preventive steps,” said Konar, who is also president of Liver Foundation, Bengal.

“Preventive health check-ups can detect problems such as hypertension  at an early stage.... If hypertension is not controlled now, it can lead to a stroke some years later.”

Abhijit Chowdhury, hepatologist and public health expert, said lack of adequate physical activity was a key reason for the explosion of some non-communicable diseases.

“Obesity is the factor that can lead to multiple diseases like fatty liver, coronary artery disease, stroke and even cancer,” he said. “This can be prevented if one sheds a sedentary lifestyle and does more physical activity. If one does not do that, serious complications may arise in the future,” said Chowdhury, chief mentor of Liver Foundation, Bengal.

A factsheet on non-communicable diseases published by the World Health Organization (WHO), and available on its website, mentions that 74 per cent of all deaths globally are from NCDs.

The factsheets also mention that “tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets all increase the risk of dying from an NCD”.

“Detection, screening and treatment of NCDs, as well as palliative care, are key components of the response to NCDs”, it says.

Moloy De, a former chief secretary of the West Bengal government, said “preventive health is very important”.

“Non-communicable diseases are going to be a big challenge for India. They are silent killers. This is where preventive health becomes very important,” said De, who was also health secretary of the Bengal government.

Monday’s workshop was also attended by members of Friends of Liver Foundation, an organisation set up in the US.

Last updated on 20.12.22, 07:59 AM

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