Good health cannot be taken for granted. This makes it pertinent for each one of us to play a larger role in ensuring the country’s collective good health.
We all are exposed to Non-communicable diseases (NCD) as our country traverses its journey to economic prosperity changing our lifestyle rapidly. It accounts for a significant burden of diseases in our country cutting across social and income levels affecting us in various ways.
Assocham India’s report on NCDs, the country’s largest survey report on the disease involving 2.3 lakh participants in 21 states, gives relevant insights on NCDs for policymakers, health professionals, and all of us to mitigate the looming threat of NCDs.
The survey conducted by Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI) suggests that the risk of NCDs increases with age and is significantly higher for the older population. It adds that the risk of prevalence of NCD among the population has doubled in the last five years and is posing danger to the demographics of India which is mostly young.
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It reflects the grim truth, that over 2/3rd of the individuals suffering from NCDs in the country are in the most productive-life age groups, i.e., between 26 – 59 years. This is a deeply worrying signal for a growing economy like India and indicates that the burden of NCDs is long-lasting.
Among the population suffering from NCDs, diabetes is the most prevalent followed by digestive diseases, hypertension, brain disorders, and arthritis at 26.2%, 24.3%, 19.7%, 3.9%, and 0.6% respectively. While diabetes and hypertension show higher prevalence in the age group 50 and above, brain disorders show higher prevalence in the age group 35 years and below.
The report indicates a high prevalence of digestive diseases in age groups 18-35 years in comparison to their average prevalence. This is due to a high intake of dairy products, fats, and meat, low intake of fruits and vegetables, and high intake of junk and fried foods. Constipation, dyspepsia, and Gastritis/ GERD are the most prevalent digestive disorders.
With 14.9% prevalence, respiratory disease is caused by both outdoor and indoor air pollution. Asthma and Acute Respiratory Infection are common respiratory diseases in people above 60 years whereas Pneumonia and Cystic Fibrosis have a relatively higher prevalence in populations below 35 years of age. Read More about Air pollution & NCD.
Interestingly, the most dreaded disease, Cancer, has a lower overall prevalence of 6.9% among the population with NCDs. Its prevalence increases over the age of 50 years with throat cancer, mouth cancer, and kidney cancer most prevalent while Oesophageal Cancer, Lung Cancer, and Throat cancer show higher prevalence among people in the age group of 18-25 years.
Skin diseases have shown an overall prevalence of 6.9% in the population suffering from any NCDs and are caused due to air pollution and low physical activity. Acne Vulgaris and Contact Dermatitis are the most reported skin diseases among people in the age group 18-25 years.
The report highlights the linkage between development and NCDs. It shows that the occurrence of NCDs is higher in less developed eastern and north-east regions while it is lower among the population of the more developed northern, central, and western regions. Among states, Odisha has the highest prevalence of NCDs (272 per 1000 population), while Gujarat has the lowest prevalence (60 per 1000 population). The other states with NCD prevalence higher than the national average include Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and West Bengal.
The vulnerability between males and females to NCDs highlighted that males are more prone to contracting NCDs than females except for Hypertension and neurological disorders which are more prevalent in women. This can be attributed to different roles of males and females in the household which exposes them to different levels of environmental risk factors and pollutants, an important contributing risk factor to NCDs.
The prevalence of NCDs among the rural and urban populations remains the same with no significant difference. The only two diseases which are more found to be more prevalent in urban areas are hypertension and diabetes, which may be linked to migration, living conditions, and other factors that affect people due to urbanization.
The size of the family also has a bearing on the prevalence of NCDs which is highest in smaller families with a household size of up to 4 family members. This is because nuclear families lack the social safety net of larger joint families, which leads to higher stress as each member must handle a higher workload for day-to-day living.
Across all diseases, NCDs are detected very late with 60% diagnosing after one year of suffering and 40% remaining unaware about NCDs despite suffering from them for over 3 years. This shows that awareness and knowledge about NCDs directly impact the time taken in its diagnosis. And it is important to enhance our understanding of NCDs and undergo preventive health check-ups for appropriate and timely action to prevent them from setting -in.
I recently attended the webinar on 22nd July where the report was launched and explained in detail.
Disclaimer: This article is for reference purposes only, under no circumstances it should be used as a replacement for medical opinion by Professionals. Any decision regarding health and health care should be taken after professional advice only. Health care advice and information shared by the author are best to her knowledge. We disclaim all responsibilities for any inadvertent omission/ commission by the author or the website.