Health Problems in India

Health Problems in India

At the face of it, India is a booming economy and one of the fastest growing in the world. Yet, over one third of income is spent towards food and related consumption and hence, social security support for health, education, housing etc. becomes critical. However, over half a century post-independence, there is little change which has occurred in context to changing the social security situation in the country. Though the government has taken a number of steps towards improving the living standards and the health situation of citizens in India, the impact has not been as profound as anticipated. India houses the maximum number of undernourished people globally and is also the diabetic capital of the world. Anaemia accounts for the second most common cause of maternal deaths in India, 20% maternal deaths.

Communicable diseases

Malaria: The incidence of malaria cases fluctuated between 1.3 and 1.6 million per year for the past five years (2007- 2011). In the year 2011, there were 1.31 million reported cases of malaria in the country. About 95% population in the country resides in malaria endemic areas and 80% of malaria reported in the country is confined to areas consisting 20% of population residing in tribal, hilly, difficult and inaccessible areas.

Tuberculosis: Some 1.2 million new cases annually and 0.64 million cases new smear positive of which 0.32 million cases die. Though notification rate per 1,00,000 population at national level is much less as compared to RNTCP patient notification, there has been considerable increase in private sector notification in 2013 as compared to 2012. As per WHO estimations, tuberculosis prevalence in 2012 is 230 per 100,000 populations. In absolute numbers, prevalence is 28 lakhs annually and incidence per 100,000 populations is 176 in 2012. Morality due to TB is  2.7 lakhs annually.

Acute Respiratory Infection: In India, over 4 lakh deaths annually are due to pneumonia, accounting for 13-16% of all deaths in the pediatric hospital admissions. There are some 369,000 deaths due to pneumonia among children 1- 59 months.

Leprosy: India ranks first in new cases of leprosy. According to WHO, India accounted for 134,752 new cases in 2012 of a total worldwide of 232,857. India had more than 12 million people living with leprosy between 1991 and 2007. India is also one of the 16 countries ranked “worst” in 2012 with more than 1,000 new cases of leprosy. The other countries in the leprosy morbidity list are Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Congo, Nepal, Myanmar, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Philippines, South Sudan, Madagascar, China, and Ivory Coast. Some 95% of all new leprosy cases are concentrated in these 16 countries, while the rest of the world accounts for only 5%.

Non-Communicable Diseases

Cancer: India reports about one million new cases every year. Of the eight million cancer-related deaths in 2012, nearly 700,000 were in India, accounting to about 8% of the world’s cancer patients. Again, in India, 71% deaths between 30-69 years are cancer related. As against global average of 0.5%, 15% cancers in India are in minors. The estimated incidence of cases of cancer in the country rose from 1,086,783 in 2013 to 1,117,269 in 2014. The estimated cancer mortality cases in the country have also risen from 478,185 in 2013 to 491,597 in 2014. Cancer is the second most common disease in India responsible for maximum mortality with about 0.3 million deaths per year. An estimated 600,000-700,000 deaths in India were caused by cancer in 2012. In age-standardized terms this figure is close to the mortality burden seen in high-income countries. Oral cancer ranks among the top three of all cancers in India: four in ten of all cancers in India are oral cancers. Annually, 130,000 individuals succumbs to oral cancer, approximately 14 deaths per hour.

Cardiovascular Diseases: Prevalence of heart failure in India due to coronary heart disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes and rheumatic heart disease ranges from anywhere between 1.3 to 4.6 million, with an annual incidence of 491,600 to 1.8 million. 2.4 million Indians die due to heart disease every year. Prevalence of Coronary Heart Diseases (CHDs) is between 7-13% in urban areas and 2-7% in rural areas. A conservative estimate indicates that there could be 30 million CHD patients in India of whom 14 million are in urban areas and 16 million in rural areas.

Environmental sanitation problems

Some 400 million people defecate in open and 44% mothers dispose their children’s faeces in open. India accounts for 60% of global and 50% of its own population open defecation. About 48% children in India suffer from some degree of malnutrition. There is an increased female school dropout rate in the adolescent age due to lack of toilet facilities. Only 25% have drinking water on their premise. Sixty seven per cent Indian households do not treat drinking water though it may be chemically and bacterially contaminated.

Medical Care Problems

India has a health policy, not a health service. The need-based services have primarily catered to the urban population, which houses 32% of the national population. The doctor population ratio stands at 1:1,700, less than the WHO prescribed 1:1,000. Reluctance by doctors to serve rural areas emerges from the feeling of professional isolation and disparity in living conditions. There are almost four times the medical practitioners in urban than in rural areas per 10000 population.

Population Problem

India accounts for 17% global population and has 2.5% of the earth’s land area. Overpopulation has its share of ill-effects including rising unemployment, inappropriate utilization of available manpower, inadequate infrastructure, resource scarcity, drop in production & rising costs and inequitable income distribution resulting in widening.

Nutritional Problems in India

Under malnutrition makes the child susceptible to infection and results in child mortality. This accounts for 22% of the burden of disease in India and adversely affects the economic growth with an estimated adult productivity loss of 1.4% of the GDP.

Calcium deficiency and calcium deficiency-induced osteoporosis among the elderly are one of the most common causes of bone diseases and deformities in India.

The prevalence of stunting among under-five children is 48%, wasting 19% and underweight, 42.5%. These numbers are high in magnitude.

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