“Practice it calmly before the storm of a major health issue strikes you hard.”

You have a cold, but your habit of waiting until something aggravates stops you from visiting your GP (General Practitioner). Soon the ailment goes beyond limits of easy and inexpensive treatments. This is when realization strikes that gargling and popping in common medication, or even trying traditional methods adopted by our Indian grannies, would have worked wonders. They could have prevented you from visiting multiple specialists and clinics, undergoing a number of tests and using prolonged medication. In short, it boils down to practicing preventive healthcare calmly before the storm of a major health issue strikes you hard.

As the phrase suggests, preventive healthcare is taking early steps and following basic, hygienic practices against common yet serious diseases. It includes visiting your doctor for regular check-ups irrespective of ailments, checking and screening for diseases, discussing tips for a healthy and fit lifestyle, improving food habits and working on your sorting nutritional imbalances, staying abreast with immunization and boosters for kids, and finding a trustworthy healthcare provider or monitor to achieve long-term benefits.

But according to experts, preventive healthcare, apart from being about early action, goes deeper and segregates itself into four levels—primal, primary, secondary and tertiary. Primal level refers to eliminating risk factors in the fetal stage and then extending it to parental care during early stage of childhood. Primary level involves developing and implementing methods to avoid diseases via immunization, diet and exercise. Secondary level is about methods to detect and address an existing disease before it becomes symptomatic. And finally, tertiary level is reducing harm caused by a disease through rehabilitation and treatment (e.g. surgery to cut down progression). When these levels—both preventive and curative in tandem—are adopted and acted upon on a periodic basis, they:

A) Save unwanted expenditure in an era when medical care is an expensive affair

From year-round doctor charges to unexpected bouts of illness leading to forced medical leaves from work, we end up spending a significant amount of money just on healthcare. While we may not realise the impact at the onset, preventive measures can save a staggering amount of expenditure on a constant basis. A simple flu can approximately make you spend ₹1,500 (or more) on doctor consultation fees, another ₹500 (or more) for the most basic medication, and other incidental expenses such as phone charges and conveyance, all of which initially seem trivial. All of this can lead to a culminated out-of-plan expenditure of almost ₹3,000 at one go. Considering the average person’s tendency to fall for common, seasonal ailments, this can total up to nearly ₹12,000 a year. Further, your medical leaves and work hours lost combined would hike the bill up to anywhere between ₹18,000 and ₹25,000 yearly. This is an estimated calculation.

B) Set a standard in your peer group

With preventive healthcare, not only would you be saving up all the incidental expenses mentioned above, but also set precedent for your subordinates, family and friends to follow. Being physically fit also gives an added mental confidence and opens multiple avenues for you, all of which we tend to miss out on. You will not only stand a chance of creating a better impression of yourself, but also get greater opportunities going forward, in both personal and professional spaces. You, by simply being cautious and early to raise the flag, set the standard for others to follow.

“Even with raised living standards, preventive healthcare is much-ignored by majority of us Indians. But it is a crucial factor for the well-being of an individual and the entire society as a whole. One has to give it a thought.” — Dr. Akshay Tiwari, Oncologist, New Delhi.

The Views expressed here are my own and shouldn’t be construed as the views of any of my employers/partners, present or past.

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