Incidence of non-communicable diseases in India rose by 25 % since 1990

Elias Hubbard
November 14, 2017

Air pollution also has emerged as a growing health risk in India, which has some of the most polluted air in the world. With the availability of state-specific findings now identifying the diseases and risk factors that need most attention in each state, we can act more effectively to improve health in every state of the country. The study on State-level disease burden was released by the Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday.

The study, "Nations within a nation: variations in epidemiological transition across the states of India, 1990-2016 in the Global Burden of Disease Study", was announced November 14 in Delhi at an event hosted by Indian Council of Medical Research, Public Health Foundation of India, and IHME, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

Summing up the findings, an article in The Lancet said: "Per capita disease burden measured as DALY (disability adjusted life year) rate has dropped by about a third in India over the past 26 years".

The figures stood at 37.9% nearly two decades ago when more than half of deaths (53.6%) were happening due to communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases.

He said, many health indicators in India continue to be poorer than some other countries at a similar level of development.

States were divided into four epidemiological transition level (ETL) groups on the basis of the ratio of DALYs from communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases (CMNNDs) to those from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries combined in 2016.

While Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Chattisgarh have the highest disease burden rates, while Kerala and Goa have the lowest rates. Malnutrition is higher among females. Air pollution was the second leading risk factor in India, contributing to India's burden of cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases and lower respiratory infections. As a stark contrast, the disease burden due to child and maternal malnutrition in India was 12 times higher per person than in China in 2016.

Other highly preventable risks, such as diets high in salt and low in vegetables and fruit, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high body mass index, are contributing to the growing burden of non-communicable diseases.

"India is committed to strengthening health data surveillance and health systems in the country".

For India is a double-whammy of non-communicable diseases increasing across states, with states of Punjab and Tamil Nadu have the highest disease burden due to diabetes, while on the other hand states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha are tackling highest disease burden due to infections because of unsafe water, shoddy sanitation and non-practice of hand washing, leading to deaths due to diarrhoea especially in children under five years of age.

At the same time, the contribution of non-communicable diseases (heart disease, cancers, respiratory diseases, neurological disorders) has risen to 55% from 30% in 1990.

The burden of most infectious diseases has reduced from 1990 to 2016, but five of the top ten causes of disease burden still belonged to this group - diarrhoeal diseases, lower respiratory infections, iron-deficiency anaemia, neonatal preterm birth, and tuberculosis. "However, the report noted: ".

Though life expectancy at birth has improved at the national level, inequalities between states continue - ranging from 66.8 years in Uttar Pradesh to 78.7 years in Kerala for females, and 63.6 years in Assam to 73.8 years in Kerala for males in 2016. It states, "The improvement in exposure to this risk from 1990 to 2016 was least in the Empowered Action Group states, indicating that higher focus is needed in these states for more rapid improvements". Remarkably, the per person disease burden due to unsafe water and sanitation was 40 times higher in India than in China in 2016.

Taking a potshot at the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, the report states that situation of unsafe water and sanitation is improving but "not enough yet". "It is necessary to plan health interventions based on the specific disease burden situation of each state, many of which are no less than nations within a nation, if the existing major health inequalities between the states have to be reduced", added Dr Lalit Dandona, Director of the India State-level Disease Burden Initiative.

According to the report, titled "India State-level Disease Burden" and released by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu here, indoor air pollution also caused five per cent of the disease burden past year.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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