The country has witnessed a steady and saddening increase in the rate of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in the past couple decades. Not only does NCD account for over 60% deaths globally, they also come off as the largest contributor cumulatively towards the total mortality burden of the country.
One other obstacle faced is the early onset of these diseases. While it is common in other parts of the world to be affected with an NCD over the age of 55 years, trends project that Indians get it as soon as 45 years citing a ten years difference. Lack of awareness and insufficient healthcare access could be cited as reasons for this.
While the rate of increase in the diseases perpetual in nature, we suffer a setback in the form of insufficient data to anchor strong research policies. The rise in the number of people affected with cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and diabetes seems to be proportional to the increase in non-communicable diseases as well.
Cardiovascular diseases contribute the most to the total mortality burden of the nation. In the period between 1990 and 2016 alone, the contribution has increased by a drastic 34.3%. As a whole, cardiovascular diseases contribute to 28.1% of total mortality. Factors like prevalent high systolic blood pressure, increasing air pollution, high total cholesterol, high fasting plasma glucose and high body mass index can be associated as reasons for this phenomena. Cardiovascular diseases are usually found in populations having higher and higher middle epidemiological transitional levels. In India, it might mean states like Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
Respiratory diseases, most commonly like chronic obstructive disease and asthma make the second largest contribution to total mortality burden in India next to cardiovascular diseases. With 10.9% contribution, they are highly present in lower middle, high and higher middle ETL groups. Indian states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Haryana.
The silent killer is also a significant contributor to mortality rates with 3.1%. However, studies show it’s the women that are most affected by diabetes rather than the men.
Worryingly, trends project diabetes to be related to a number of difficulties and occurring at a younger age within the country. The rapid urbanization, economic boom and lifestyle changes of people have made this disorder prevalent across all sections of society in India.
In absolute numbers, about 4 million Indians die annually due to non-communicable diseases alone. Keeping in mind the lower reliability of data that is produced, one wouldn’t be surprised if the contribution of non-communicable diseases towards mortality rates were much higher. Reformation in sourcing reliable data through efficient surveys and large scale policy changes and introductions from the state may help arrest the incline in the rates of NCDs in future.