Assocham’s report suggests quantum leap of NCDs above 35 years

A healthcare survey was conducted covering 233672 people and 673 public health offices in 21 states

Assocham has recently released a report to analyse the rising cases of NCDs in the country. Based on a healthcare survey covering 233672 people and 673 public health offices in 21 states it has been observed that India’s non-communicable disease burden is growing at an alarming rate with the average age for onset falling sharply.

Prepared by Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI), the survey reported that NCDs increase after 18 years and show a quantum leap when an individual crosses the age of 35 years. It found that more than 2/3 of the individuals suffering from NCDs are in the most productive-life age groups i.e., between 26-59 years. This is an alarming trend and points to the grim reality that the burden of NCDs on India is long-lasting given that 65 per cent of the country’s population is below 35 years of age.

The survey also suggested that the prevalence of having any NCDs among the population is 116 per 1000 population in India. It identified hypertension, digestive disease, and diabetes as the top three NCDs followed by respiratory diseases, brain/neurological disorders, heart diseases/CVD, kidney disorders, and cancer in the order of prevalence. 

On a collective basis, the report identified air pollution as the most prevalent risk factor among the surveyed population. It was trailed by low physical activity – a key metabolic and physical activity and an imbalanced diet, a behavioural risk factor that occupied the third spot. 

Interestingly, chewing tobacco and tobacco consumption were found not to play any significant role in the occurrence of NCD, and alcohol consumption was found to have an even smaller impact on the prevalence of NCD. Together these intoxications, deeply connected to modern-day lifestyle, were found to have a much lesser impact on the occurrence of NCDs.

Throwing light on the co-morbidity of NCDs with each other, the study underlined that hypertension has the highest comorbidity with almost all NCDs. This is followed by diabetes, kidney, and digestive disorders in their relative simultaneous occurrence in morbidity. This coexistence, according to the survey, is followed by diabetes and respiratory diseases. On the other hand, cancer and kidney disease were found to have lower comorbidity.

The survey found that the population of northern, central, and western regions of the country has prevalence lower than the national average while prevalence is quite high in lesser developed regions of India including eastern and north-east regions. The state of Odisha was found to have the highest prevalence of NCDs (272 per 1000 population) while Gujarat registered the lowest prevalence (60 per 1000). Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and West Bengal were other states where NCD prevalence was higher than the national average. This calls for state-specific strategies to tackle NCDs.

NCDs affect both rural and urban populations. There is however higher prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in urban areas due to migration and differences in living conditions. Family structure also has bearing on the prevalence of NCDs as individuals from nuclear families are more prone to NCDs in comparison to joint families due to more workload and perhaps higher stress. Furthermore, males are found to be more prone to contracting NCDs than females except for hypertension and neurological disorders which are more prevalent in women. The prevalence of NCD among males is 119 per 1000 male population while for females it is 113 per 1000 female population.

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