Life expectancy in India has shown tremendous improvement but when it comes to the health of the nation it is a dismal show. The first ever state-wise health report released last year casted a gloomy picture as far as citizen’s health is concerned. The socio-economic development over these years has to some extent been able to control communicable diseases but has shown a poor performance in the malnutrition, diarrhoea, diabetes, anaemia and tuberculosis control in the developed states of Punjab, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Their infant mortality and immunisation rates too show a marked improvement. These ailments continue to plague even the poorer states of Uttarakhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, UP, MP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, with a huge number of patients still succumbing to them. But the prosperous states too are not in the pink of health despite having tackled communicable diseases. The rise in lifestyle-related ailments and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, diabetes and respiratory and heart illnesses is another matter of concern. In fact, Punjab is the capital of ischemic heart disease. The share of NCDs in the total burden of disease has increased to 55 per cent from 30 per cent in these 26 years. In all, the widening demographic disparities – characterised by a malnutrition death in Odisha and an obese kid in Punjab – add up to a severe health crisis. India bears one-fifth burden of the world’s disease, we now have a state-wise break-up of the burden. Kerala recorded the highest life expectancy at birth for both males and females in rural areas, Himachal Pradesh recorded the highest for males in urban areas, and Jammu and Kashmir for females in urban areas. The national health providers, in conjunction with states, would do well to take this as a prescription for the treatment of the problem. Along with shifting focus on preventive medicine and building capacity to tackle NCDs, it is important to give a financial booster dose to the health sector. But at the end the onus falls on individual to come out of sedentary life style to avoid lifestyle linked diseases.
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