New Delhi: In the first initiative of its kind, the Indian government
has started a programme to prevent as well as map the extent of
diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and stroke—chronic ailments that
could cause life expectancy in the country to fall and have economic
implications as well.
Launched on a pilot basis in seven states—Assam, Punjab, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh—for the first year, a budget of Rs1,620.5 crore has been allotted for the national programme to check these diseases in the five-year plan to fiscal 2012.
“This marks the transition from focusing largely on the Big Three (HIV, tuberculosis and malaria) to Big Five (diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, cancer and chronic lung diseases),” Union minister for health and family welfare Anbumani Ramadoss said at an event to launch the programme. Experts in his ministry feared “life expectancy in India could actually fall” on account of these diseases, he added.
According to the World Health Organization, the “Big Five” accounted for 53%, or 5.47 million, of the total deaths in India. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, estimates the country could lose 18 million man years in 2030 on account of the ailments, double the number lost in 2000.
“Educational interventions that target behavioural change are important, but not sufficient. They need to be buttressed by policy interventions,” said Reddy.