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Home / Opinion / Columns /  A moment for national unity

SARS-CoV-2 is testing the world and certainly its largest democracy. Hence, the Indian Prime Minister’s clarion call to “prepare, but not panic" was apt and responding to it, hundreds of thousands of Indians have risen to the occasion and are working tirelessly to meet the challenge. As I write this, close to 1.5 million travellers have been screened across our airports, a massive taskforce is fumigating and cleaning public places, state governments and local bodies are enforcing quarantine measures and thousands of medical professionals are working 24x7, taking care and testing people coming into hospitals and medical facilities.

It is truly humbling to witness the solidarity, compassion and resolute dedication of a collective force, persevering to beat the situation. So, it would be amiss if we do not salute these unsung heroes, who are fighting a stealthy enemy, sacrificing their comfort and even personal needs at times.

I do believe that we are witnessing a new genre of patriotism, as each of these fine Indians is rising above the call of duty to serve the people of their homeland, and protecting precious lives.

Alongside, millions of Indians are now at home as schools, colleges and offices are closed. They are studying online, working from home and it’s a new way of life for most.

Imaginably, there are complaints of feeling cooped up, many are experiencing isolation and yet, interestingly to beat the blues, a lot of new healthy habits are taking shape. Many have started reading books, they are playing board games, spending more time with the family, attempting to cook healthy food and are even taking up a new hobby.

Celebrities are posting videos sharing their fitness techniques to exercise on the terrace and are encouraging their millions of followers to follow suit.

At this time, we must also be cognizant of our existing health conditions and not ignore them. It has been observed that preexisting medical conditions put a patient at higher risk of increased severity and poorer clinical outcome. This especially applies to the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and chronic respiratory diseases.

The prevalence of NCDs is also growing at pandemic-like proportions and represents a major challenge to our collective tomorrow.

According to WHO data, these chronic diseases are the leading cause of death globally and responsible for more than 70% of deaths worldwide. The four big risk factors responsible are tobacco, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful use of alcohol. In addition, major metabolic risk factors are obesity and raised blood pressure, blood glucose and blood cholesterol levels. This is an opportune time to embrace tools such as yoga to stay active and fit while restricted to the house. We must live healthy and beat stress. I would urge every Indian and people around the world as well to embrace this new way of living. As the adages go, there is nothing more valuable than life itself and good health is our greatest wealth. Therefore, in gratitude, let’s take a moment every day to thank all those who strive to save lives and make our lives special.

(Preetha Reddy is vice-chairperson, Apollo Hospitals, and senior vice-president, Nathealth)

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