Non-communicable diseases claimed 53% lives in India in 2008

NEW DELHI: Over 52 lakh people died in India of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular diseases, stroke, diabetes and cancer in 2008. NCDs accounted for 53% of all deaths.

Among men, 38% of the deaths were under 60 years, while among women it was 32%.

Cardiovascular diseases accounted for 24% of all deaths, cancers (6%), respiratory disease (11%), diabetes (2%) and other NCDs (10%), says the World Health Organization’s latest country profile on NCD trends in 193 countries.

Looking at the metabolic risk factors, WHO’s estimates can be worrying for Indians.

Around 33% people have high blood pressure, 10% have high blood glucose, 11% are overweight and 27% have high cholesterol. When it comes to behavioral risk factors, 14% smoke tobacco daily and another 14% don’t exercise at all.

WHO’s latest report was released on the eve of the global leaders meeting at the United Nations on NCDs that starts in New York on September 19. Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is heading the Indian delegation.

“This report indicates where each government needs to focus to prevent and treat the four major killers – cancer, heart disease and stroke, lung disease and diabetes,” says Dr Ala Alwan, assistant director-general for NCDs and mental health at WHO.

NCDs are the top cause of death worldwide, killing more than 36 million in 2008. Cardiovascular diseases were responsible for 48% of these deaths, cancers (21%), chronic respiratory diseases (12%) and diabetes (3%).

The report says, in 2008 more than nine million of all deaths attributed to NCDs occurred before 60 years. Around 90% of these “premature” deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries.

One of the findings shows that men and women in low-income countries are around three times more likely to die of NCDs before 60 years than in high-income countries.

It is estimated that the proportion of men dying under the age of 60 from NCDs can be as high as 67%. Correspondingly, among women under 60, the figure stood at 58%.

The lowest rate of mortality from NCDs for under-60 men were 8%, and for women in the same age group it was 6%. The country profile also reports on the proportion of people who smoke and are physically inactive.

They also indicate trends for four factors that increase people’s risk of developing these diseases, blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and blood sugar over the past 30 years.

Ann Keeling, chairperson of the NCD Alliance steering group, said, “The most important outcome of the UN High-Level Summit on NCDs will be sustained and strong high-level political support for a framework of specific commitments to tackle the NCD crisis. The aim is to reduce NCD death rates by 2% per year which will avert an estimated 36 million deaths over 10 years.”