Mal­nu­tri­tion na­tion’s big­gest health haz­ard, air pol­lu­tion a close sec­ond

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES NATION - Jayashree Nandi

The re­port pub­lished in Lancet has found that be­sides mal­nu­tri­tion and ris­ing air pol­lu­tion, di­etary risks, high sys­tolic blood pres­sure and di­a­betes were other ma­jor risk fac­tors in In­dia in 2016. In 1990, air pol­lu­tion was the third-largest risk fac­tor in the coun­try but it moved to the sec­ond rank in 2016

New Delhi: Child and ma­ter­nal mal­nu­tri­tion con­tin­ues to be the big­gest health haz­ard in In­dia since 1990, while de­te­ri­o­rat­ing air qual­ity came a close sec­ond, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent re­port in one of the world’s old­est med­i­cal jour­nals.

The re­port pub­lished in the Lancet jour­nal has found that be­sides mal­nu­tri­tion and ris­ing air pol­lu­tion, di­etary risks, high sys­tolic blood pres­sure and di­a­betes were other ma­jor risk fac­tors in In­dia in 2016. In 1990, air pol­lu­tion was the third largest risk fac­tor in the coun­try but it moved to the sec­ond rank in 2016.

The re­port also analy­ses the vari­a­tions in epi­demi­o­log­i­cal tran­si­tion – a change in mor­tal­ity rates brought about by med­i­cal ad­vance­ments – across In­dian states. Ac­cord­ing to the find­ings, un­der­de­vel­oped states, in­clud­ing Bi­har, Jhark­hand, Ut­tar Pradesh, Ra­jasthan, Mad­hya Pradesh and Haryana have recorded a low epi­demi­o­log­i­cal tran­si­tion level (ETL), and thereby suf­fer from a higher health bur­den from these risk fac­tors.

Delhi may be one of the most pol­luted ci­ties but it faces a marginally lower health im­pacts, when com­pared to states like Bi­har. If cal­cu­lated in terms of life years lost due to

air pol­lu­tion is the sec­ond lead­ing risk fac­tor for dis­abil­ity ad­justed life years

air pol­lu­tion, or what med­i­cal ex­perts call dis­abil­ity ad­justed life years (DALYs), Delhi has a DALY rate of 1890, when com­pared to Bi­har (4308) and Ut­tar Pradesh (4390).

A Cen­tre for Sci­ence and En­vi­ron­ment (CSE) re­searcher, who an­a­lysed the data for Delhi said, “Dis­eases that are trig­gered by air pol­lu­tion in­clud­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, chronic res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases (COPD), and can­cers have shown dra­matic in­crease since 1990. In 1990 COPD was ranked 13 among lead­ing causes of ill­ness and lost life years. But this has now shot up to rank 3. Sim­i­larly, Is­chaemic heart dis­ease that is greatly in­flu­enced by air pollu-

DALYs five lead­ing causes of

tion has gone up from rank 5 to num­ber 1, di­a­betes from rank 22 to rank 5 and stroke from rank 16 to rank 15.”

Ex­plain­ing the rea­son for such vari­a­tions, Bhar­gav Kr­ishna, a re­search fel­low at Pub­lic Health Foun­da­tion of In­dia, said, “The pop­u­la­tion in these states may be suf­fer­ing higher co­mor­bidi­ties – the pres­ence ad­di­tional dis­eases or dis­or­ders re­lated to the main dis­ease. The use of solid fu­els, a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to air pol­lu­tion is also higher in these states.”

Med­i­cal ex­perts led by the In­dian Coun­cil of Med­i­cal Re­search (ICMR) and In­sti­tute of Health Met­rics and Eval­u­a­tion (IHME), who con­duc- ted the study, con­firmed that num­ber of death and dis­abil­ity caused by di­ar­rhoea and other com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases have de­clined, but dis­eases closely linked with air pol­lu­tion and smok­ing, in­clud­ing heart ail­ments, have in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly.

An­other re­port re­leased by the Lancet Com­mis­sion said each year over 9 mil­lion deaths oc­cur world­wide due to air and wa­ter pol­lu­tion.

Air pol­lu­tion is at the top of the list con­tribut­ing to over 6 mil­lion deaths. In­dia re­mains one of the worst af­fected coun­tries where 1.9 mil­lion pre­ma­ture deaths oc­cur due to de­te­ri­o­rat­ing am­bi­ent air qual­ity.

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