Fortifying health & well-being in the new normal4 min read . Updated: 24 Jul 2020, 08:01 PM IST
- Episode 2 of PGIM India Mutual Fund Presents LiveMint ‘Amend, Adjust, Adapt’ brought together a panel of experts to look at strategies for maintaining physical, mental and financial wellness in the post-COVID world.
Even as India’s COVID-19 curve finally seems to be witnessing a dip in big cities like Delhi and Mumbai, we are far from the end of the pandemic, warn experts. A majority of us are locked up indoors since the past 120 days, the end of this uncertainty still unclear.
To understand the ground situation better and seek solutions, Vikram Chandra (Founder, Editorji) came together with experts from all aspects of health – physical, mental and financial – to look at strategies towards improved health and well-being in post-Covid India.
For Episode 2 of PGIM India Mutual Fund presents LiveMint ‘Amend, Adjust, Adapt’, Chandra was joined by Dr Randeep Guleria, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS); Dr Samir Parikh, Psychiatrist, Director, Fortis Mental Health Program, Fortis Healthcare; Rujuta Diwekar, Nutritionist and Public Health advocate and Ajit Menon, CEO, PGIM India Mutual Fund.
Grim statistics but improved healthcare
The number of COVID positive cases in the country are rising. The light at the end of the tunnel, the vaccine, is still a few months away but doctors definitely have a better understanding of how to treat critical cases leading to lower mortality rates.
“When it started out in February-March, there was very little we knew about the virus and we were using drugs which we are no longer using, like even anti-HIV drugs. Because we started understanding the pathophysiology of the virus more, we also started changing our treatment strategy," said Dr Guleria.
“We now have a more focussed treatment strategy and every day we are learning more and more as to how to treat it better," he added.
The battle is far from over
Even as treatment protocols have evolved and doctors are better equipped to treat the virus, the pandemic is far from over. As the world eagerly awaits a vaccine, experts say that it will be a game changer for those with comorbidities.
“The initial trials of the Oxford and other vaccines have shown good results in terms of safety but we still need to look at the immunogenicity – how long does it last, can it protect us from the infection. If everything goes right, the vaccine will be available early next year," Dr Guleria added.
The pandemic is no longer just about safeguarding oneself against the virus and building immunity. A lot of people, especially young children and the elderly, are reporting poor mental health.
“Mental health concerns are there and I have taken more public engagements in the last 120 days than I have in the last 2-3 years. We have experienced the most unprecedented aspect of our lives which no one was prepared for. The anxiety builds up as there is no end in sight," said Dr Parekh.
The economic slowdown, pay cuts and job losses have become commonplace aggravating anxiety levels. “The stress is real. Out of a 130 crore population in India, about 44-47 crore are working and almost 50 per cent of them earn ₹5,000 a month. That’s where the impact has been the maximum," said Menon.
The positive: We are talking about our health now more than ever. “Most people are behaving better than ever. Although there was a fear that one is going to get fat, the exact opposite has happened. You have more time to yourself – that has turned us into a fitter population," said Diwekar.
The way forward
As Dr Parekh simply puts it: “There is only one way forward – focus on one day at a time and for today, you need to look at three things – positivity, productivity and connectivity."
There has been a lot of talk about stepping up immunity, but Diwekar says this is not something that comes out of a bottle. “You need to look at immunity as something that you do on a regular basis. It’s a lot of common sense - wake up on time, sleep on time, eat at home and exercise for 20-30 minutes everyday," she said.
The economic slowdown has come as a wake-up call for many who are now prioritizing savings. “Spend less than you earn, save the difference, invest it in a diversified set of solutions and have patience. Also, there is a sequence to financial wellbeing. Start with insurance and protection. Next step is to create an emergency fund – the need for which has been felt a lot during this crisis. Then, step into investing and making a will," said Menon.
Most importantly, don’t drop your guard just yet
While wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing are the new normal, four months into the lockdown, there is a category of people who are taking greater risk. Doctors warn against dropping your guard.
“We still are in the middle of a pandemic so we need to be cautious. There are a lot of people who have got frustrated. But people need to be patient for a few more months since the number of cases continue to increase," concluded Dr Guleria.
In case you missed the full episode, watch it here.