Passion meets Purpose

Whatever you are passionate about, you do. If you enjoy cave diving, it becomes your passion. You enjoy travel, it becomes your passion.

You talk about it, think about it, plan on how to do it….you understand it, tight?

What about purpose? People are born with an inbuilt need to find purpose in their lives. The eternal question that we all ask ourselves, why am I here in the first place?

And we all instinctively realise that true purpose is tied to something outside ourselves, to something greater that our self.

Why do I say that? Read on to find out.

A wise man said: Blessed are you, if you find your passion and your purpose meeting together, aligning and building up one another.

There are some professions where this happens more than others.

For example, those who are passionate about healing and find themselves in healthcare. They find purpose i their lives daily. How blessed are they indeed.

But you may ask, what about cave diving? What purpose would it serve?

Recently a few boys got trapped in a cave in Thailand and the whole world was watching how the rescue operations were underway. It was very risky. The cave was submerged, underground and the boys were hundreds of meters away from the accessible entrances.

The world’s best cave diver had this to say after the rescue mission

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Passion and Purpose. I hope you are passionate about your purpose in life. God bless!

 

 

 

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Block chain and Medicine

As a Medical Doctor I ask myself what are some potential uses of blockchains in healthcare?

Okay, so for those who must be wondering,

What is a blockchain?

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In general a blockchain is defined as a distributed system which records and stores transaction records.

Blockchain more specifically is defined as “…a shared, immutable record of peer-to-peer transactions built from linked transaction blocks and stored in a digital ledger.”

Blockchain is also similar to a database which stores information, however the main difference is that the data is located in a network of personal computers called nodes where there is no central entity such as a government or bank controlling the data.

How can blockchain be used in healthcare?

  • Drug Traceability where each transaction between drug manufacturers, wholesalers, pharmacists and patients can be tracked to verify and secure drug product information important for tackling issues such as counterfeit drugs.
  • Improvement and authentication of health records and protocols on record sharing.
  • Smart contracts where certain rule-based methods are created for patient data access. Here, permissions can be granted to selected health organisations.
  • Clinical trials where altering or modifying data from clinical trials fraudulently can be eradicated.
  • Precision medicine where patients, researchers and providers can collaborate to develop individualised care.
  • Genomics research via access to genetic data secured on blockchain
  • Electronic health records (EHRs) 
  • Nationwide interoperability
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The future of Total Person Care

As a medical Doctor who is also interested in Total person care and treating each individual as equal and worthy of dignity and respect, blockchain technology gives me the technological possibility of actually implementing my values in practice.

I look forward to more developments in the field of Blockchain in healthcare. God bless.

How old is your hearing?

If you ever wondered how old your body really is, here is a great way to find out.

As you know the ear is a marvelous bio engineering marvel. As your age advances changes occur in the hearing parameters.

The rate at which our bodies age is a matter of intense interest to all, and we do many things to try to stay young!Figure3-copy

If you really want to know how your body has aged relative to your actual age, here is a simple way to test for sure how old your ears are, which will roughly indicate how old your physical body is. Do test and share!

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Click here to know how old your ears really are!

 

A tribute to Jeremy and his family

Max and Gillian went through a parents worst nightmare, the death of their child Jeremy Fernand.

Jeremy was only 19 years when he fell off a running train on the 26th of November 2017. He succumbed to his injuries at Cooper hospital in Mumbai.

It was a shock to his parents and to all of us who knew him and the family. The pain was agonizing, the questions unending.

It was like being thrown into the deepest and darkest pit possible. Gillian cried out to God, praying that if it is His will let Jeremy be raised from the dead. We all wept. Friends and family poured into their home that dark night to comfort them, shocked themselves. The people from their local church enveloped them with love and comfort.

But something unexpected started taking place almost within minutes of Gillian receiving the news at home. She started saying, “Lord if it is your will, I accept it. ” She started praising God at that most difficult moment.

Even Max who was at the Hospital, once he overcame the initial shock, was able to reach out and comfort his shocked friends who were gathered there.

What we witnessed was the triumph of the Living HOPE Jesus Christ, over death, the fleshing out of the victory Jesus won for you and me on the cross, defeating sin and death for ever, once and for all .

Max and Gillian have experienced this by believing in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. They were able to live it out.

At the darkest moment of their lives, this light within them shone through.

This was real faith, this was Christianity at its most powerful moment.. They were able to sing and praise God because they made a choice in their hearts to believe in the promises of God. They knew for sure that Jeremy now was, not in a better place, but in the best place possible, as Gillian kept saying in the days following.

Death was defeated that day and we were witness to it. This was when we started to understand what was meant by the eternal verse in 1 Corinthians 15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The way Max, Gillian and even Gabrielle, his 11 year old sister, conducted themselves during the days following the death of Jeremy was I think the greatest testimony to the resurrection power of Christ. Many people have been touched including atheists witnessing this. One said, if this is what faith is, I want to experience this. At the funeral where over a thousand gathered, everyone was comforted by how the parents behaved. It was almost as if the parents were drawing from an unending well, springs of living water and hope and joy just bubbled out of them.

Jeremy’s friends who worked with him at 40 Parables, a company in Bangalore gave powerful testimony to his life and how he was so different in many ways, his maturity and his wisdom. He used to think out of the box. [He was home schooled by his parents as they believed that was the best way to impart their faith and life to him]

They said that any problem, any curved ball thrown at him he could handle.

Here we saw that the greatest curved ball Satan could throw at a parent became another opportunity to display the glory of the risen Jesus Christ to the world.

All praise to our God who lives and loves us with passion. God bless you.

Top two myths of Indian Healthcare

I often hear that in India poor people are being pushed deeper into poverty when they have to pay out of their own pockets for healthcare, especially when they avail of private healthcare.

We also often hear about the “high cost of healthcare” in the private sector in India which services 70% of India’s healthcare needs.

What are the solutions we hear being proposed by almost every stakeholder?

  1. Universal Medical Insurance 
  2. Increased Government spending on Healthcare

Let me try to explain why these are definitely not the best things that could happen to Indian healthcare @drspmathew.com

 

Whats wrong with Universal Medical Insurance [UMI]?

If there is one thing we know for sure from the experience of other countries, it is this: Universal Medical Insurance ensures in the long run that no middle class or poor person will be able to afford medical care without Medical Insurance. In a sense, UMI does everything to ensure its own survival!

Why does that happen? There are several factors:

Behavioral changes:

When people do not have to pay for their own healthcare: Have you thought through the way people approach their own health when they know they are covered by Medical Insurance and they believe they need not worry about taking care of their own health, especially in terms of the non communicable diseases NCD’s which are the leading causes of death? worldwide? http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/index3.html

When people have medical insurance and do not have to spend for their own healthcare, it encourages a very casual approach to their own health, which is fueled by the media hype about how medical technology is able to treat every known disease on earth. So, the common attitude is, I have insurance, so no problem. If I fall sick, I am covered by insurance, and medical technology will make me alright. Wrong thinking, friend!

The incidence of NCD’s have skyrocketed in all developed countries and increasing even in the developing countries. There are multiple reasons for this rise but behavioral or lifestyle disorders are so called for a reason: Bad behavior causes bad health, and the false sense of security that insured persons have is a major cause for this behavior according to me. 

As a result of this increasing burden of NCD’s, Insurance companies keep increasing the premiums, and the overall burden on healthcare increases dramatically.

Where do you think Insurance companies get the money to pay your Medical bills?

[Read more on The Relation between Universal Health Insurance and Cost Control   http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199503163321111 ]

Disruption of Free Market economics:

Mediclaim and other forms of Medical Insurance try to dictate pricing based not on actual costing studies but on a collective bargaining with providers. Paradoxically this has been shown to raise healthcare costs and lower healthcare quality, rather than bring them down as one would have hoped.

On the other hand, when people do not have medical insurance and must spend on healthcare out of their own pockets, they take all steps possible to avoid getting sick in the first place. They also behave more responsibly to take care of their own health and are very cost conscious.

This cost consciousness enables enabling free market economy forces in the private healthcare sector to keep costs low without unnecessary bureaucratic intervention. This is what has been happening till now in India to a large extent.

Whats wrong with Increased Government spending on Healthcare?

What really happens when the Government tries to step in to provide Healthcare?

The US spends 17% of its GDP on Healthcare. India barely 4%. Per capita annual Healthcare spending in the US is 8600 US Dollars which equals 551195.50 Indian Rupees, while in India and other such countries, annual average healthcare spending is 88 US Dollars which equals 5641.23 Indian Rupees.

Rising healthcare costs in the US force a major rethink on strategy

In the real world, healthcare costs skyrocket when the Government and Medical Insurance companies step in. All that they are concerned about is their own survival. 

When left to the economies of the free market as with any other industry or business, the price of healthcare will remain reasonable, access and quality will be determined by market forces, and there will be no opportunity for corrupt Governmental agencies to dictate their own often selfish agendas. I am not denying that there are several good people in the Government who sincerely believe that they are trying to do good, but the vast majority do not understand the realities and complexities of the healthcare system.

The Government, instead of wasting tax payers money in areas which are not its core competencies, should rather focus on providing basic things needed for health, starting with good infrastructure and a lot more! In these areas the Indian Government can do well to learn from the developed world!

Poverty and sickness:

But why do poor people in India find healthcare expensive?

Poverty is a big problem everywhere but more so in India. Is the healthcare industry responsible for poverty? A better question would be to ask, why are these people poor? And why are they falling sick?

Many poor people in India fall sick and die, because the environment and infrastructure essential for good health were not adequately provided for by the government and other agencies responsible for the same.

Poor people in India

The Government also did not provide a conducive environment for businesses to function transparently and efficiently, resulting in corruption and low wages for the workers. Of course there are diverse reasons for low wages, each of which is equally responsible for the poor person not being able to pay for healthcare.

The result: Poor people living in unhygienic conditions, getting underpaid for whatever work they do.

And when they fall sick, where do they go? Government healthcare, if available, is crowded and not free either. They lose days waiting in line, losing what little income they earned. So what alternative do they have? Private healthcare, that is fast, efficient, and much cheaper than any healthcare anywhere in the world. Why? Because when the pricing of healthcare is left to market forces, competition keeps costs low as in any business in the free market economy.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/most-indians-prefer-private-healthcare-services-over-govt-hospitals/story-KSgqT0rqLIebKzq34wRbJJ.html

Warped Economics:

If this poor person cannot afford the fees at a private healthcare setup, something is drastically wrong in the economics. The poor person is not being paid adequately or unable to save enough.

So, who is really to blame for the poor sick man being pushed into poverty due to sickness? Who is responsible for him falling sick in the first place?

Is it not the Government, which has not provided him basic needs for good health like clean air, pure drinking water and good sanitation? Which has not ensured that he gets adequate opportunities to earn his reasonable livelihood?

Every person in India has a right to claim that the taxes he pays are adequately utilized, not to line the pockets of corrupt politicians through short sighted mega projects in ‘Government healthcare’, but to ensure a life of dignity to the poorest, with the basic needs for good health provided to every citizen of the land.

The WHO definition of Health is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The Government can do much more for the health of India if it focusses on what it is paid to do, govern impartially and without corruption, rather than try to enter into Healthcare and muddle it up.  In that way it would be doing a great favor to the health of its citizens.

The Government can mess up Healthcare even if it is relatively non-corrupt like in the developed nations. So one can only guess what is going to happen to Healthcare in India once the Government tries to do anything.

Private Healthcare Providers and the responsible Free Market:

I must salute the private healthcare provider, who despite the odds, is providing a reasonable level of service to large segments of society at a fraction of the cost worldwide. No doubt there are black sheep here also but the model is one that has a hope for a better future, bringing about Shalom Healing to people. 

Let us stop blaming those who are trying to do good, and focus on the real culprits. The people get the Government they deserve, an old saying goes.

I hope I have made myself clear. Neither increased Governmental spending on healthcare nor Universal Medical Insurance is the answer dear friend.

Instead, if it really cares for the health of its people, let our Government take serious steps to improve the basic essentials for good health. Let it restore and improve the quality of our air, water, food and soil.

Let the Government eradicate corruption and red tape within itself, help honest businesses to establish and grow, thus providing people with a reasonable standard of living. This will help to not only improve the health of our nation, but to transform India into a world class nation. Hope better sense prevails in our country. Please pass this on to those who care. Jai Hind!

Air pollution increases risk of childhood obesity and diabetes

A few days back I saw thick black smoke emanating from an illegal roadside garage and stopped to see what was happening.
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Illegal roadside garage emitting carcinogenic fumes

I was shocked to see two men from a roadside garage burning wires made of copper and insulated with PVC, apparently to extract the copper.

In the bargain they were spreading carcinogenic fumes over a residential area housing thousands of citizens blissfully unaware of the deadly air they were breathing.
What are the dangers, you may wonder?
There is increasing evidence for the role of environment in pathogenesis in many diseases. Children below 5 years of age and adults older than 50 years are most at risk. A global assessment of the burden of disease from environmental risks by the WHO has shown that 23% of global deaths and 26% of deaths among children under five are due to modifiable environmental factors. The harmful effects of air pollution on respiratory health are well-known to us and well-established. Air pollution has been linked to many non communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity, cancers and type 2 diabetes.
A new study has again underscored the dire need for a healthier environment. This study has suggested that  exposure to ambient air pollution may contribute to development of type 2 diabetes through direct effects on insulin sensitivity and β-cell function. The study reported in the January 2017 issue of the journal Diabetes showed that exposure to elevated concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM 2.5) had adverse effects on longitudinal measures of insulin sensitivity, β-cell function, and obesity in children at high risk for developing diabetes.
So what can you do?
Here is what I did.
I went to the people burning the wires and asked them what they were doing. They said they were burning wires to extract copper, and this was the first time they were doing this.
I told them the dangers of burning such things, not only on their own health but also on the health and lives of thousands of people staying around.
They immediately doused the flames with water.
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Caught and educated

As a good steward of the environment, and a citizen of this nation, be alert and do your bit wherever you are. You will be blessed by the living God who sees everything and is no respecter of persons, dear reader.
Jesus would surely not approve of or tolerate any evil in the area where he lived. I consider myself to be an ambassador for Christ, and take responsibility for what is going on in the area where I live. So I do my bit to tackle any evil or injustice when I see it.
If each Indian were to do so I am sure India would be a much better place to live in, and future generations will be grateful.
God bless you and India.
Do post what you have done to encourage others.