How diseases are taking a toll on India

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New Delhi: In 2003, India made a significant epidemiological transition, with lifestyle diseases beginning to cause more deaths than communicable and nutrition-related ailments. But this shift has been uneven. Several states that have been economic laggards are left with the twin burden of tackling communicable diseases as well as the threat from lifestyle diseases.

The state-wise disease burden analysis, undertaken for the first time by the Union government, is one step towards understanding and defining the problem better so that there could be state-specific public health interventions. The main causes are:

1. Air pollution

2. Maternal and child malnutrition

3. Prominent diseases

(a) Risks of non-communicable diseases, particularly ischaemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes: Very high in Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Andhra Pradesh

(b) Persistance of communicable diseases in central India: In the poorest states, communicable diseases like diarrhoea still remain a concern

(c) Respiratory ailments: Both indoor as well as ambient air pollution are bigger problems in north India. Delhi’s winter smog is part of a larger pattern.

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