The contribution of non-communicable diseases to health loss, fuelled by unhealthy diets, high blood pressure, blood sugar and overweight, has doubled in India over the past two decades.
A study looking at the nature of diseases and their reasons between 1990 and 2016 has shown that Kerala has the highest life expectancy. The study shows that life expectancy at birth improved in India from 59.7 years in 1990 to 70.3 years in 2016 for females, and from 58.3 years to 66.9 years for males. There were, however, continuing inequalities between states, with a range of 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.
‘The wide variations in the burden rate of leading diseases between the states highlight why it is necessary to understand the specific disease burden trend in each state.’
If the biggest health problems and risks in each state are tackled on priority, the chances of achieving the overall health targets set by India would be much higher than with a more generic approach not based on the disease burden trends in each state.
The contribution of most of the major non-communicable disease groups to the total disease burden has increased all over India since 1990, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, mental health and neurological disorders, cancers, musculoskeletal disorders, and chronic kidney disease. In 2016, three of the five leading individual causes of disease burden in India were non-communicable, with ischaemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as the top two causes and stroke as the fifth leading cause.
India has been going through a major epidemiological transition over the past 25 years. The burden of premature death and health loss due to non-infectious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic obstructive lung disease and road traffic has increased massively, and the burden due to lower respiratory infections, tuberculosis, diarrhea and neonatal disorders still remains unacceptably high.
The extent of the burden due to these major conditions is expected to vary significantly across the various population groups and the states of India.