Bangalore: India’s health performance has been reported to be at its worst when compared with the neighbouring countries. When the life expectancy, mortality due to all causes, under-five mortality or mortality among men and women between 15 and 49 years of age, or many indices when compared, India ranked way below China, Sri Lanka and Brazil. It was ranked just below Bangladesh and Nepal. In few cases it even ranked below Pakistan, as reported by Rema Nagarajan for TNN.
Among India's neighbouring countries Sri Lanka and China fought for top spot on most parameters. Lalit Dandona, research professor, Public Health Foundation of India and professor of global health at IHME said, “Countries like China and Brazil and even our neighbours, who are not as well off, doing well show that India should be able to do a lot better. We are in this situation probably because we only pay lip service to health service and health system development. Our public expenditure on health is among the lowest in the world,” as reported by TNN. In India, diarrhoeal diseases were the top killers in 1990; ischemic heart disease replaced it in 2010. For two decades chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) held second position. The third most common cause of mortality was lower respiratory infections, in 2010 stroke took its place. Diarrhoeal diseases moved to the fourth place followed by TB which is still at the fifth place.
By 2010 the biggest killers for the poorer countries were lower respiratory diseases, malaria and HIV. In the 15-49 age group suicide and TB were the major killers for South Asia, while in China road accidents replaced suicide in the same age group by 2010. Suicide and road injury followed by ischemic heart disease appears to be the main killers in this age group, in developed countries. HIV/AIDS was the biggest killer in Africa in the 15-49 age groups.
In India, among men ‘road injury’ is the main killer in the 15-49 age group whereas among women in this age group suicides are the major cause of death. In the under-five age group among children, preterm birth complications were the main cause of death in India in 2010. Preterm complications along with congenital anomalies are the main killers in many of the developed countries too.In many of the lesser developed countries lower respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases and malaria were the worst killers. Apparently, the biggest risk factors for most Indians were dietary risks, household air pollution, tobacco smoking, including passive smoking and high blood pressure, as stated by the report.
It was pointed out by Dandona that the hard to ignore fact is the shift towards poor quality high-fat food consumption which causes immense damage. Dandona concluded, “We will suffer as a society if we do not regulate Big Food as the companies selling beverages, snacks etc are called. Tobacco might be a clear killer but this is more insidious and many of us public health experts think we need to be smarter about how these unhealthy foods are allowed into our society,” as reported by TNN.
India has been lagging in health care sector for a while now, but losing to its neighbour calls for attention to fix the system and provide better health care.