Among the healthy rural population across six pockets of Gujarat with no history of ailments, 40 per cent were detected unhealthy, with a majority of them suffering from diabetes, hypertension and kidney stones. This was revealed in a study undertaken by the Institute of Kidney Diseases and Research Centre (IKDRC), Ahmedabad, and H L Trivedi Institute of Transplantation Sciences (HLTITS).
Suprisingly, 16 per cent cases are below 18 years of age, who are suffering from diseases like hypertension. While 47 per cent are between 18-40 years, the maximum 60 per cent are above 40 years. The study, with a sample size of 2,500, was recently carried out in the rural areas of Himmatnagar, Kadi, Mehsana, Siddhpur, Limbdi and Dhoraji.
“The picture revealed by this study is really very scary. We had no idea that this study would reveal such an alarming data. The rural population is considered to be healthier in comparison to the urban population. However, it is not the case anymore. More surprisingly, the penetration of lifestyle diseases, including diabetes and hypertension, were detected among children below 18 years of age,” said Dr Aruna Vanikar, head of department of pathology at the IKDRC and HLTITS.
The reasons cited by the experts for this change is the urbanisation effect. “The changing food habits have affected the rural population as well, with increased consumption of salty food, lifestyle changes and increasing prevalence of stress levels,” said Dr H L Trivedi, head of the department of nephrology.
Another fact revealed in the study that left the experts at the Centre startled was the prevalence of stones among the sample population. Among children below 18 years of age, 17 per cent were detected with stones which increased to 32 per cent among 18-40 years of age and 24 per cent among population above 40 years of age.
Initiated with a campaign launched for the rural population, residing in the interiors of Gujarat, on the World Kidney Day (March 13) to conduct preliminary tests of healthy people, the study was recently compiled and analysed under the supervision of Dr Vanikar. Though the campaign was launched to reach out to villages and tribal belts, the data collected had forced the health experts at the IKDRC to chalk out a road map to address this issue. “In order to detect diseases at an early stage among otherwise healthy population, the IKDRC has planned a preventive nephrology week for family members and friends accompanying transplant patients here. Also, as advised by the health team at the screening centres, people detected with diseases have already started coming to the centre for treatment,” said Dr Vanikar.