Q&A: How can you improve your brain health?

The government has formed a national task force on brain health, a critical healthcare area in the country. To understand brain healthcare better, we spoke to Dr Rajinder K Dhamija, the chairperson of the National Task Force on Brain Health and director of IHBAS (Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences). Excerpts:
Q. How critical is the brain for us, for our daily survival?
A.The brain is a critical organ for various functions sustaining life such as basic bodily functions including respiration, blood pressure, eye movements, emotional well-being, and cognitive functions like higher processing, planning, memory, execution of issues, hearing, vision etc.
Q. Studies suggest that India is grappling with a rising burden of brain diseases such as stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. What can we do about it?
A. Enhancing health education and Awareness about brain diseases to encourage proactive measures and timely intervention is the first step. In addition, a coordinated and collaborative approach among various stakeholders including policymakers, government and private health facilities, researchers, NGOs, and communities is required to address this grappling situation.
Further, improving neurological and mental health infrastructure in the nation to allow access to quality facilities ensuring early diagnosis and treatment of brain diseases, and destigmatising mental illnesses are some important pathways to address the emerging challenges.
Q. How do socio-economic status, age, geography, and gender contribute to disparities in accessing brain healthcare in India?
A. These factors do create disparities in accessing brain healthcare. Socio-economic status translates into barriers such as lack of financial resources, limited access to healthcare facilities, and inadequate health insurance coverage.
In terms of age, older adults are more susceptible to various brain diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and stroke. Also, mobility issues and limited social support hinder their ability to access healthcare services.
How does awareness about brain health help in preventive, promotive, and rehabilitative domains of universal healthcare? What specific actions or recommendations has the task force proposed to improve the accessibility and quality of brain healthcare at different levels? In what ways are Ayushman Aarogya Mandirs being leveraged as part of the strategies to promote, manage, and prevent neurological disorders? Find answers to these and more questions in the full interview on TOI+


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