In­dia’s dis­ease bur­den wors­ens, could nix the growth po­ten­tial


Though life ex­pectancy is up, six out of 10 In­di­ans now suc­cumb to non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases: study

In­dia’s worst fears on the health of its cit­i­zens has been con­firmed. A com­pre­hen­sive study, the first of its kind, re­veals that a health cri­sis is span­ning the en­tire spec­trum of ail­ments, from life­style-re­lated dis­eases to the per­sis­tent scourge of mal­nu­tri­tion.

While life ex­pectancy rose, data re­vealed that six out of 10 In­di­ans (in 1990 it was less than one in three) now suc­cumb to non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases (NCDS) like heart dis­eases, child and ma­ter­nal mal­nu­tri­tion is the lead­ing cause of pre­ma­ture death and poor health and the bur­den of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis is the high­est in the world.

Worse, this dis­ease bur­den varies, in­di­cat­ing a widen­ing health gap be­tween the na­tion’s wealthy and poorer states. The In­dia Statelevel Dis­ease Bur­den Ini­tia­tive, was a joint study con­ducted by the In­dian Coun­cil of Med­i­cal Re­search, Pub­lic Health Foun­da­tion of In­dia (PHFI), and In­sti­tute for Health Met­rics and Eval­u­a­tion.

Un­ad­dressed it could un­der­mine ef­forts to trans­form In­dia’s eco­nomic po­ten­tial.

The study also puts the spot­light on the coun­try’s spend­ing on health­care; at present it is 1.2% of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

Ker­ala, Goa, and Tamil Nadu, rel­a­tively pros­per­ous states, have the largest share of NCDS such as car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, di­a­betes, chronic res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases, men­tal health and neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­or­ders, can­cers, mus­cu­loskele­tal dis­or­ders and chronic kid­ney dis­ease.

“The con­tri­bu­tion of NCDS to death and dis­abil­ity in In­dia con­tin­ues to grow at an alarm­ing rate —a tick­ing time bomb that is in­creas­ingly af­fect­ing not just our health but our econ­omy as well,” Vivekanand Jha, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, The Ge­orge In­sti­tute for Global Health, an in­ter­na­tional med­i­cal re­search in­sti­tute, said.

The bur­den of most in­fec­tious and as­so­ci­ated dis­eases came down from 1990 to 2016, but five of the 10 in­di­vid­ual lead­ing causes of the dis­ease bur­den still be­longed to this group: di­ar­rhoeal dis­eases, lower res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions, iron-de­fi­ciency anaemia, neona­tal preterm birth, and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis. high­est (As­sam and Ut­tar Pradesh) and the low­est (Ker­ala), high­light­ing the vast health in­equal­i­ties be­tween the states.

Life ex­pectancy at birth im­proved in In­dia from 59.7 years in 1990 to 70.3 years in 2016 for fe­males, and from 58.3 years to 66.9 years for males.

“The more de­vel­oped states that had this tran­si­tion a long time ago need to go on a war foot­ing to con­trol the rapidly ris­ing bur­den of ma­jor NCDS and in­juries,” said J. P. Nadda, min­is­ter of health and fam­ily wel­fare.

Ar­gu­ing sim­i­larly, Anoop Misra, chair­man, For­tis-c-doc Cen­tre for Di­a­betes, Meta­bolic Dis­eases and En­docrinol­ogy, said, “In health prob­lems, In­dia is suf­fer­ing from dou­ble jeop­ardy—dis­eases re­lated to un­der- and over-nu­tri­tion. Those states where health tran­si­tion is rapidly oc­cur­ring (in­crease in heart dis­ease, di­a­betes) are also most ur­ban­ized and mech­a­nized. But such changes are dy­namic, and will quickly march over to other states. In view of this, sev­eral na­tional con­trol pro­grammes need not only strength­en­ing but ca­pac­ity build­ing to tackle del­uge of NCDS.”

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