Critical comment on extent, scope and implications of NCDs in India

As India makes development progress, it also faces a growing threat from non-communicable diseases (NCDs)—cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, and mental health conditions. These NCDs—which many people don’t even realize they have—add to India’s already substantial health burden from infectious diseases and injuries. The NCDs are costly in terms of both human suffering and economics. A study indicates that these diseases will cost India 126 trillion rupees (roughly 2.3 trillion U.S. dollars) from now through 2030—an amount that is 1.5 times India’s annual aggregate income and almost 35 times India’s total annual health spending.

The main reason for NCDs are high usage of tobacco, alcohol, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, stress, insufficient treatment and general lack of awareness among Indians.

There is a need of special care for poor and slum-dwellers as they are suffering from problems like lung cancer, are underweight, have malnourished children because they use more tobacco, inferior quality of alcohol and are unable to get proper nutrition.

Some of the peculiar factors of India exacerbates the overall health situation. For example, in India, the cost of health services for such diseases is borne by one member out of four in family, and therefore it drives them into poverty. Higher taxes on alcohol forces rural and poor people to consume alcohol of inferior quality thereby increasing vulnerability. With increase in working population, fertility rates are decreasing and therefore deaths due to NCDs are bound to increase as ageing population are more vulnerable.