A team of doctors from Mumbai-based Jaslok Hospital has said that health problems connected with liver and diabetes are a major cause of concern for Goans. There is also high prevalence of diabetes among Goans. Goan doctors have been expressing similar views for a long time. According to the doctors in the Goa Medical College and Hospital, at least three people die of liver diseases and an equal number of diabetes-related problems in GMC alone per day. The death figures for all Goa would be double or triple. While liver cirrhosis is a major disease afflicting Goan population quite a few people succumb to other liver diseases, such as viral infection and liver failure. Over the years drug abuse has also turned into a major cause of liver diseases. Liver diseases and diabetes are a universal problem and not limited to Goa. However, easy availability of liquor and high consumption by local population is a cause of higher number of liver-related diseases and should be tackled on priority by the state authorities, together with diabetes.
As alcohol consumption has proven to increase the rate of liver damage and risk of cirrhosis in people who already have liver disease, including hepatitis C, the state health department needs to create awareness among the people of the diseases caused by high liquor consumption. The problems related to liver diseases are not visible till three quarters of liver becomes non-functional and it is too late to provide any medical help by the time the damage is diagnosed. Liquor consumers could do a favour to themselves by being honest with their doctors about their drinking habits as they could be examined properly to detect signs of liver diseases and help them take preventive steps to control liver diseases. Similarly, the people ought to change their habit to prevent diabetes, whose prevalence in the state is increasing with every passing year. Diabetes is no more only the disease of the rich and can be found in all strata of Goan society. Diabetes is a multi-organ disease, affecting organs from head to toe. It takes its toll silently without the person afflicted coming to know about its presence in one’s body.
The state has good health indices and infrastructure both in government and private sectors. However, it has been observed that people visit a hospital when the disease they are suffering from is at advanced stage. Just having good health facilities will not help in combating any disease. What is needed is to create awareness about the diseases among general public and get them to the hospitals for diagnosis. There is a need to motivate people to give up living sedentary lifestyle and food habits as they are among the main causes for diabetes. This awareness could be done through school curriculum. Though there is a state programme for combating diabetes, it needs to be revamped to make it more patient friendly and reach out to every diabetes patient. Despite high prevalence of liver diseases there are no dedicated plans to combat alcoholism or the diseases caused by liquor consumption. A study needs to be carried out about alcoholism, especially among the youth, and a targeted programme could be chalked out to wean them away from alcohol and prevent them from contracting deadly liver diseases.
The state has launched the Deen Dayal Swastha Seva Yojana, an insurance scheme to help people get treatment for various health problems. The government should provide for periodical health check under the scheme so that diseases or ailments could be diagnosed before they become acute or unmanageable. Such a provision will help prevent many a disease or at least control them to large extent and help save the government a lot of funds due to timely detection of diseases followed by their treatment. Huge amounts are spent on treatment and management of diseases. The government should encourage physical activities among its employees and other members of the Goan society to keep the population healthy. A healthy workforce can perform better and deliver the goods to the public. The government should encourage awareness and counselling campaigns after periodical health checks so that people remain fit and active by taking measures to prevent diseases. An increasing number of public sector and private sector employees drink alcohol and hence expose themselves to risks of developing liver diseases. Good results can be achieved through a targeted programme. Underperformance and frequent leave and absenteeism can be controlled with such programmes to make employees aware of the need for taking preventive measures against liver diseases and diabetes. The government can widen the scope of DDSSY to maintain a healthy population.