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Highlighting health crisis in South Asia

Mar 11, 2011

World Bank's report South Asia at Health Crossroads with High Rates of Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Obesity reveals that South Asian countries, particularly India, are facing a “health crisis” with a rise in non communicable diseases (NCDs). It also lays down guidelines to effectively manage non-communicable diseases and improving health systems.

South Asia at Health Crossroads with High Rates of Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Obesity

Publisher: World Bank, 2011

“South Asia is at a crossroads with rising inequality; poor people struggling to get access to quality health, education, and infrastructure service; a growing share of the population ageing unhealthily; and with health systems that are failing to adjust to people’’ needs,” said Michel Rutkowski, the World Bank’s South Asia Director for Human Development.

South Asia is home to a large, fast-growing population with a substantial proportion living in poverty. The population is relatively young and average life expectancy is now at 64 years and rising. Lifestyle changes associated with urbanisation and globalisation is increasing the risk factors and disease onset at younger ages. As a result, South Asians are becoming more vulnerable to heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and obesity, and creating significant new pressures on health systems to treat and care for them. The current health systems have failed to to adjust to people’s changing needs.

Over half of the disease burden is now attributable to Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), and therefore a larger share than communicable diseases, maternal and child health issues, and nutritional causes combined. This pattern is similar to that of high-income countries decades ago. Ischemic heart disease (IHD)is the leading cause of both deaths and forgone disability adjusted life years (DALYs) in working-age adults (15–69 years). By contrast, communicable diseases (e.g., tuberculosis, respiratory infections, and water- and vectorborne disease) still remain prominent in the total population creating what is referred to as a “double-disease burden.”

Tackling NCDs early on with better prevention and treatment would significantly spare poor people the crushing burden of poor health, lost earnings, deepening poverty, and the risk of disability and premature death, which are becoming all too common in the changing demographics of the region.

Source : World Bank
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