Sourav Ganguly’s heart attack and some reflections on India’s health system priorities

… it’s all driven by celebrity concerns, not science

Sourav Ganguly, the ex-India cricketer, captain, and currently the president of the Board of Cricket Control of India has suffered heart attack and has undergone stenting in a Calcutta hospital, within six hours of the attack (the justified course of action). The twitterati of India were all over the place wishing their “elder brother” (dada as they say in Bengal) speedy recovery and heaved sighs of relief that all is well with him.

Even the chief minister of the state of West Bengal, where Sourav has ancestral home, tweeted thus:

Surprisingly, you’d not hear a single word of concern from these people considering that millions of Indians suffer from stroke every year. a paper by Kamalakannan estimate that the incidence of stroke per 100K Indians per year is anywhere between 100–150.

Let’s do some math. Kamalakannan tells us that every year, out of 100, 000 Indians, 100 people (at least, so let’s take the most conservative estimate) suffer from stroke. Considering give or take India’s 1.2 billion people (1200, 000, 000), if you do the math, you will see that rougly 330 people every day suffer from stroke. How many of them receive stents within six hours of stroke? For how many of these people you will find twitteratti tweet? How many of these people get a simple tweet from their political leaders, from their members of the parliament, let alone the chief minister of a state? More pertinently, what has the government of India done to minimise the risk of heart attacks and stroke?

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Also in:

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