Lifestyle diseases- Cancer, Hypertension largest cause of deaths

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Lifestyle-related diseases are now proving more fatal and killing more Indians as compared to the infectious ones. India's disease pattern has undergone a major shift over the past decade, said the World Health Organization (WHO).

The recent WHO data unveils a worrying scenario. At present, out of every 10 deaths in India, eight are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes in urban India. In rural India, six out of every 10 deaths is caused by NCDs.

Similar is the trend in the Southeast Asian region. While deaths due to NCD’s have seen a 21% jump,  deaths caused due to infectious diseases have fallen by 17%. The projection is that the South-east Asian region will have the greatest total number of NCD deaths in 2020: 10.4 million.

Dr Nata Menabde, WHO representative to India, said, "Globally, 60% of the deaths are now caused by NCDs. Similar are the numbers in India. NCDs are affecting the entire globe. If not controlled, they will become a tsunami that will not only kill people but impair development and crash economies."

To counter and prevent it, India is launching a comprehensive national programme. Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said:  "The programme will be rolled out during the 12th Plan period starting 2012. It will cover all 640 districts. The programme will focus on health promotion, prevention of exposure to risk factors, early diagnosis, treatment of NCDs and rehabilitation."

Calling for urgent action to check the rise in NCDs, mental health issues and injuries which account for two-third of the country's total disease burden, Azad said: "India with an estimated 5.1 crore diabetics has the world's second largest diabetic population following China. Unless effective measures are taken, India may have 8 crore diabetics by 2030. Similarly, the number of people affected by cardio-vascular diseases which was about 3.8 crore in 2005 may go up to 6.4 crore by 2015."

WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan said: "Chronic NCDs deliver a two-punch blow to development. They cause billions of dollars in losses of national income, and push millions of people below the poverty line, each and every year."

Dr Ala Alwan, WHO's assistant director-general for NCDs said: "About 30% of people dying from NCDs are under 60 and in their most productive period of life. These premature deaths are largely preventable." Without action, the NCD epidemic is projected to kill 52 million people annually by 2030, Dr Alwan added.

Approximately 44% of all NCD deaths occur before 70. In countries like India, a higher proportion (48%) of all NCD deaths occur in people under the age of 70, compared with high-income countries (26%). Cardiovascular diseases were responsible for the largest proportion of NCD deaths under 70 (39%), followed by cancers (27%). Chronic respiratory diseases and digestive diseases were together responsible for 30% of deaths while diabetes was responsible for 4% of deaths.


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