In India, air pollution and high blood pressure among top 5 risk factors for deaths in 2019

Global Burden of Disease study 2019

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Global Burden of Disease study 2019

In News:

  • The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study 2019, was recently published in The Lancet journal.
  • The study has analysed 286 causes of death, 369 diseases and injuries, and 87 risk factors in 204 countries.
  • The findings from the study also provide new insights on how well countries were prepared in terms of health for the Covid-19 pandemic.

About: Global Burden of Disease Study

  • The Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) is a comprehensive regional and global research program of disease burden that measures mortality (death) and disability from major diseases, injuries, and risk factors.
  • The GBD study offers a powerful resource to understand the changing health challenges facing people across the world in the 21st century.
  • The study is led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle (USA). In December 2018, the World Health Organisation and the IHME announced a formal partnership to collaborate to produce a single set of global health estimates to strengthen the validity of the GBD and improve its policy relevance and use.
  • In partnership with IHME, The Lancet journal has published global health estimates from the GBD study since 2010.
  • The study also introduced the disability-adjusted life year (DALY) as a new way to measure the burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors.

About: Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY)

  • The disability-adjusted life year (DALY) is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death.
  • It not only includes the potential years of life lost due to premature death, but also includes equivalent years of ‘healthy’ life lost due to poor health or disability.
  • It was developed in the 1990s as a way of comparing the overall health and life expectancy of different countries.

About: Non-Communicable Disease (NCD)

  • A non-communicable disease is a non-infectious health condition that cannot be spread from person to person. It also lasts for a long period of time and is therefore also known as a chronic disease.
  • A combination of genetic, physiological, lifestyle, and environmental factors can cause these diseases. Some risk factors include: unhealthy diets, lack of physical activity, smoking and excessive use of alcohol.
  • NCDs include Parkinson’s disease, autoimmune diseases, strokes, most heart diseases, most cancers, diabetes, chronic kidney disease etc.

Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study 2019:

  • The trend in most countries points to a decline in infectious diseases and a rise in chronic diseases.
  • The study warns that the greatest cumulative impact on health comes from the significant rise in metabolic risks like high blood sugar, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
  • The study notes that these metabolic risks have grown by 50% since 1990, and are responsible for a huge number of deaths globally.
  • High blood pressure contributed to 1 in 5 deaths (almost 11 million) in 2019, followed by high blood sugar (6.5 million deaths), high Body Mass Index (5 million), and high cholesterol (4.4 million).
  • The study also pointed that several risk factors and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including obesity and diabetes are associated with increased risk of death from COVID-19.
Findings from South Asia:
  • In the South Asia region, NCDs now contribute to more than half of the years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. This was dominated by infectious, maternal, neonatal, and nutritional diseases 30 years ago.
  • Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh have seen the proportion of total health loss (DALYs) caused by the rise of NCDs, by more than 150 % since 1990.
Findings from India:
  • The leading risk factor for total health loss in India in 2019 was child and maternal malnutrition, while the second leading risk factor was air pollution.
  • According to the report, 58 % of the total disease burden in India is now due to non-communicable diseases, up from 29% in 1990, while premature deaths due to NCDs have more than doubled from 22 to 50%.
  • The study found that the largest contributors to increasing health loss in India over the last 30 years were NCDs like heart disease, pulmonary disorders (related to lungs), diabetes, stroke, and a group of musculoskeletal disorders.
  • The leading non-communicable cause of death in India in 2019 was heart disease with 1.52 million deaths, followed by pulmonary disorders (8,98,000), stroke (6,99,000), diabetes (2,73,000) and cirrhosis and other liver diseases (2,70,000).

Gains in life expectancy:

  • India has gained more than a decade of life expectancy since 1990, rising from 59.6 years to 70.8 years in 2019.
  • However, there are wide inequalities between states, ranging from 77.3 years in Kerala to 66.9 years in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The increase in ‘healthy’ life expectancy (life without illness) in India, which was 60.5 years in 2019, has not been as significant as the growth of ‘life expectancy’. Thus, people are living more years with illness and disability.

Way Ahead:

  • The world is failing to change unhealthy behaviors, particularly behaviors related to diet quality, caloric intake, and physical activity. This is due to inadequate policy attention and funding for public health and behavioral research.
  • Most of these risk factors are preventable and treatable, and preventing them will bring huge social and economic benefits.
  • Thus, countries must work on policies and strategies that stimulate economic growth, urgently address the social issues in the domain of poverty, housing, education, and race, which are all strong determinants of health.

Also Read: Global Concerns: Global Burden of Disease published

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