India's malnutrition disease burden 12 times higher than China

Sowmya Swaminathan Director-General Indian Council of Medical Research

The contribution of injuries to the total disease burden has increased in most states since 1990.

From diarrhoea being the top killer in a couple of states to Alzheimer, a corollary of higher life expectancy, making it to a state's leading causes of death the variation between states is huge. Kerala, Goa, and Tamil Nadu have the largest dominance of non-communicable diseases and injuries while they are relatively lower in Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. "Punjab had 157 per cent higher per person burden from diabetes and 134 percent higher burden from ischaemic heart disease", said the report. All states have started seeing the effects of these two factors and many will see an acceleration of these as unplanned urbanisation picks up pace and life expectancy increases coupled with reduced cases of early deaths. In 1990, 61% of the total disease burden in India was attributed to communicable, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases.

The report also mentioned the trend of diseases in various states, for example, Uttar Pradesh had 50 percent higher disease burden per person from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 54 percent higher burden from tuberculosis, whereas Madhya Pradesh had 76 percent higher overall disease burden per person.

There were, however, continuing inequalities among states, 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.

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The incidence of NCDs rose from 30 percent of the total disease burden in 1990 to 55 percent in 2016. 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.

At the same time, malnutrition continued to be the single largest reason for health loss in India, according to the first state-level disease burden and risk factors estimates released by the Indian Council of Medical Research, Public Health Foundation of India and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in collaboration with the health ministry. However, there was an nearly two-fold difference in this disease burden rate among the states in 2016, with Assam, Uttar Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh having the highest rates, and Kerala and Goa the lowest rates.

"The per person burden from numerous leading infectious and non-communicable diseases varies 5-10 times between different States and malnutrition continues to be the single largest risk for health loss in India, which is higher among females and is particularly severe in the empowered action group States and Assam", noted the report. It dropped to 33% in 2016. "This knowledge has the potential of making fundamental and long-term contributions to improving health in every state", said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Director-General of ICMR.

Even after the World Health Organisation (WHO) sounding many alerts and health experts giving away numerous tips and tricks to curb health issues, air pollution has continued to become an obstacle in people's health.

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