The myth that the cardiovascular diseases are a result of urban lifestyle was broken, by a three-year-old study in the rural Andhra Pradesh. The study found that these diseases were among the largest and most silent of killers.
The study led by the Byrraju Foundation, an NGO, along with by four other leading institutes, The Centre for Chronic Disease Control (CCDC), the CARE Foundation in India, the George Institute for International Health and the University of Queens land in Australia who had all participated in the study had found ample evidence to prove that cardiovascular diseases remain the biggest killer in villages too.
The team met in meet in New Delhi on 11th April to discuss progress of a major new health initiative in rural Andhra Pradesh. The Andhra Pradesh Rural Health Initiative - APRHI aims at highlighting the enormous problem of cardiovascular disease in the region. The Andhra Pradesh Rural Health Initiative (APRHI) is collaboration between these five groups. Since 2003, the APRHI group has worked to define the main health problems in the study region and to develop novel ways of dealing with them.
The pilot study assessed a population of nearly 1.8 lacs, involving 45 villages in East and West Godavari Districts of Andhra Pradesh. Extensive research conducted over the last two years has showed heart diseases as being responsible for an unexpectedly large number of deaths. This was contrary to wide beliefs, that communicable diseases such as malaria and childhood infections were responsible for most of the deaths.
According to the recent WHO report, cardiovascular diseases in India have accounted for almost 250 lives per every 100,000 deaths in the country. This has indirectly led to an adverse effect on the India economy with estimated reduction of more than 1 per cent in India's GDP by 2015. India's economy is estimated to lose more than US $ 200 million of the national income of the country.
Dr Bruce Neal of The George Institute for International Health said that today's meeting was a great opportunity and a platform to move research forward in presence of global health experts. The current and reliable data about causes of death and disease is a prerequisite for the best use of the limited health care resources. Saying that it was their intention to provide information and action on the research carried our by APRHI and build a strong action plan to combat the deadly situation prevailing in rural Andhra Pradesh and India. He also claimed that they are hoping to start their office in Hyderabad within the next twelve months.
Acknowledging the support of the Welcome trust Professor Alan Lopez of the University of Queensland, Australia, said that the participation of the WHO and World Bank at the meeting is a strong signal of the importance of the research towards global health development. Stating that there is a critical need for up-to-date information about the causes of death in rapidly developing areas of the world like rural India, he said that this workshop would help share knowledge and further discussion about the rapid evolution of health problems in India.
Professor K Srinath Reddy, Head of Cardiology Department, AIIMS and CCDC Director said that in India, as in many other developing countries, chronic diseases are fast becoming the leading health problem that needs urgent attention. It was important to understand the vast majority of people in India have little or no access to the type of treatments proven to prevent these conditions, he said.
Dr K Rama Raju Chief Executive Officer of the Byrraju Foundation said that innovative, affordable and sustainable new health programs that can be incorporated into primary healthcare services in poor rural areas are a priority for the project.
Dr Krishnam Raju, Chair of the CARE Foundation said that while the residents of rural Andhra Pradesh would be the first to benefit from such a program, the meeting ensures the potential of such surveillance systems and benefits to other regions of India and to other resource-poor countries around the world.
Representatives from the WHO, World Bank, the Indian Ministry of Health and Universities around the world, recognising the need to collect reliable and accurate data on causes of death in India, are holding a two day workshop on Mortality surveillance in developing countries, in New Delhi, to discuss the huge problem of tracking diseases such as stroke and heart attack as they evolve in India and other Asian-Pacific nations.