The National Health Profile released by the Centre this week, shows a very grim picture of public health in India. The data of the profile shows that India's challenges have doubled in recent times. While conventional diseases like Malaria, Dengue, and Tuberculosis continue their menace, the new diseases found among Indian patients, like H1N1 and acute respiratory infection, have emerged as mass killers that make India a sick country.
The data reveals that communicable diseases still have a high mortality rate, resulting in large number of deaths in patients. Rabies, a communicable disease caused by the bite of dogs and other animals, has 100 per cent mortality rate. All 97 cases reported during 2017 resulted in death. Japanese Encephalitis, Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, Meningococal Meningitis, and H1N1 have a mortality rate of 12 per cent, 8 per cent, 6 per cent, 6 per cent, and 5 per cent respectively. H1N1 or swine flu has claimed 2266 lives in 2017.
Encephalitis and its various other forms (Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, Encephalitis and Japanese Encephalitis) continue their menace in the country. The data also showed that Encephalitis claimed 626 lives whereas Acute Encephalitis Syndrome and Japanese Encephalitis were the cause behind the deaths of 1010 and 252 people respectively. The data states that Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal have failed to put a check on the menace of these deadly diseases.
While Uttar Pradesh reported 2859 cases with 246 deaths, Andhra Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh remained second and third respectively with 44 and 42 deaths. Among Union Territories, Delhi and Chandigarh reported 412 cases with 66 deaths and Chandigarh reported 173 cases and 33 deaths. These deaths explicitly show that awareness programmes run by the Centre have failed to inform people about Encephalitis and its impact on their health. One of the fallout was seen in Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Uttar Pradesh, where the majority of victims were suffering from Encephalitis.
Among others, the diseases that posed severe challenge to healthcare in India are Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Pneumonia (from all causes). While Acute Respiratory Syndrome (ARS) with a total of 40742018 cases claimed 3163 lives, Pneumonia became the cause of death of 3281 persons. Kerala reported the highest number of cases followed by Rajasthan, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh. While Kerala reported 5885969 cases, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh reported 4479438, 3431280 and 3045868 cases respectively.
Public health activists suggest that the data on diseases may be under-reported by the Directorate of Health Services of different states which are not well equipped to record the exact number of deaths. They also raise concern over the number of deaths due to Pneumonia. While the NHP 2018 suggest ARS caused 2661 deaths, WHO data state 168,501 deaths were caused by Acute Respiratory Infection in the same year.
It must be highlighted that apart from National Health Profile, data on biggest killer diseases in India, Cancer and Tuberculosis suggest the continuance of menace. A World Health Organisation report suggest that India still contributes one-fourth of all Tuberculosis cases in the world. In 2016, India reported 1.7 million new cases and 423,000 deaths. Similarly, 7 lakh new Cancer patients are registered every year with 5,56,400 deaths per year.
However, experts have a different opinion about the number of deaths due to Pneumonia. They stated that the profile is just a compilation of deaths reported by state governments and Union territories but India is still battling with incorrect recording of death and their causes.
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