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So now the same tobacco major will be the providers of both the disease and the cure?
Imagine a super specialty hospital developed by one of the tobacco tycoons, with a ‘no smoking’ sign everywhere. Confounding, isn’t it? A recent update by the Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Department has caused upheaval amongst social activists. The update was through an e-mail communication sent by Shalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary, exploring a partnership with a tobacco major, ITC Limited, to build super specialty government hospitals. Public health activists have taken it as a case of conflict of interest, and hence, the said update has sparked a controversial argument on private companies’ partnership with the government for building a hospital.
Tobacco is excessively produced and used by Indians, especially in northern India. Cigarettes contain more than 5,000 toxins, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar. And what’s the outcome? Every fifth adult is a tobacco user, and every tenth adult smokes tobacco, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey India (GATS-1), done in 2009-10. It causes non-communicable diseases like cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases, leading to 53 per cent of all deaths. India witnesses the death of over 10 lakh people a year with smoking alone. 1 person dies every 6 seconds, due to tobacco.
A sigh of relief comes with the news that as per the highlights of the second Global Adult Tobacco Survey, the use of tobacco in the 15-24 age group has reduced from 18.4 per cent in 2009-10 to 12.4 per cent in 2016-17. The National Health Policy 2017 envisions curbing the prevalence of tobacco use by 15 per cent by 2020 and by 30 per cent by 2025.
Individual responsibility goes a long way in cases such as these. If today’s youth takes up peer pressure in a positive manner, and motivates their peers in saying no this silent killer, they’d soon join hands towards building a health community.
When it comes to the infrastructure development by the State or Central Government regarding establishing super specialty hospitals, there definitely can be many more prospective financial partners who could exhibit their contribution towards this social cause.
In the light of the above stated facts and figures, our biggest hope lies in educating youngsters about the ill-effects of tobacco. Along with that, the government also needs to take some steps towards protecting the youth and have related policies effected to safeguard the future of the nation.
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