Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Disease rates from these conditions are accelerating globally, advancing across regions and social classes.[1
] By the dawn of the third millennium, NCDs are sweeping the entire globe, with an increasing trend in developing countries where, the transition imposes more constraints to deal with the double burden of infective and noninfective diseases in a poor environment characterized by ill-health systems. By 2020, it is predicted that these diseases will be causing seven out of every 10 deaths in developing countries.[5
] Four of the most prominent NCDs – cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes – are linked by common preventable risk factors associated to lifestyle which include tobacco use, smoking, alcoholism, marked increase in intake of energy-rich foods, low physical activity, heightened level of psychosocial stress, etc., promoting hypercholesterolemia and hypertriglyceridemia.[6
In the recent past there has been a growing interest in traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM) and its relevance in public health both in developed and developing countries. Diversity, flexibility, easy accessibility, broad continuing acceptance in developing countries and increasing popularity in developed countries, relative low cost, low levels of technological input, relative low side effects and growing economic importance are some of the positive features of traditional medicine (WHO 2002).[13
] It is well established by now that the approach of Western allopathic medicine is excellent in handling acute medical crises whereas Ayurveda has successfully demonstrated an ability to manage chronic disorders that Western medicine has been unable to. Ayurveda can form the basis for a new, improved approach to public health, including health promotion, and affordable primary care functions, especially for communicable and chronic diseases as it is not just a system of Indian medicine but it is a way of life.[14
] To tap the potentials of our indigenous medicine systems it is important to assess the awareness among people and make efforts to popularize them inorder to combat various communicable and NCDs.
The promotion of health and prevention of diseases are stressed by personalized approach (Prakriti
-based medicine) which is the forte of Indian systems of medicine (ISM). The concept of personalized therapy in Ayurveda has the potential to offer remedies to the challenging health issues like adverse drug reactions, drug withdrawals, economic disparities and chronic disease management to name among few. An integrative global approach could do wonders to health sciences benefiting a broad spectrum of patients.[14
] The Indian system of medicine is of great antiquity. It is the culmination of Indian thought of medicine which represents a way of healthy living valued with a long and unique cultural history.[11
] The Indian sages were aware of chronicity and complications of the diseases and they had classified the diseases according to the prognosis in four categories.
- Saadhya: the disease which can be cured easily.
- Krichha Saadhya: the disease which can be cured after hard efforts and with the help of Panchakarma and other procedures.
- Yaapya: The diseases which cannot be cured, but can be stabilized with the help of medicines and Panchakarma or surgery.
- Asaadhya: the disease which cannot be cured.
Certain health conditions that are widespread and on the rise in India can be addressed by the integration of Indian system of medicine with modern medicine. National programs targeting public awareness, education and improved structural facilities to facilitate healthy lifestyle are the answers to the economic and health care burden of these disorders. Integration of Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and homoeopathic, the three ISM, with Allopathic system to ensure health for all citizens across the country is the new Mantra
of the Union health ministry. Ayurveda, Homoeopathy, Siddha, Unani, Yoga and Naturopathy offer a wide range of preventive and curative treatments that are both cost effective and efficacious. Therefore, there is a need for ending the long neglect of these systems in our health care strategy. The main objective behind such integration is primarily to bring the focus on prevention rather than cure according to the Department of AYUSH, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.[16
The current study was conducted keeping in mind the present scenario of globalization, shift in lifestyle patterns and increase of healthcare burden in India due to changing economics. The present study was carried out to assess the awareness about lifestyle and popularity of Ayurveda among people of Jamnagar and the overall preference of medicine system in case of common acute ailments and chronic health conditions.