Lifestyle diseases to cost India $237 bn by 2015
NEW DELHI: Smoking, consuming high-calorie fast food and being a couch potato will not only cut short your lifespan but will also cost the country dear.
A report, jointly prepared by the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum, says India will incur an accumulated loss of $236.6 billion by 2015 on account of unhealthy lifestyles and faulty diet.
The resultant chronic diseases - heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and respiratory infections - which are ailments of long duration and slow progression, will severely affect people's earnings.
The income loss to Indians because of these diseases, which was $8.7 billion in 2005, is projected to rise to $54 billion in 2015. Pakistan would face an accumulated loss of $30.7 billion with income loss increasing by $5.5 billion to $6.7 billion by 2015.
China, however, will be worse off. While its accumulated loss will stand at $557.7 billion, the loss of income of the Chinese will stand at $131.8 billion, almost eight times what it was in 2005.
According to the report, which was released at the World Health Assembly in Geneva on Monday, 60% of all deaths worldwide in 2005 - 35 million - resulted from noncommunicable diseases and accounted for 44% of premature deaths.
What's worse, around 80% of these deaths will occur in low and middle-income countries like India who are also crippled by an ever increasing burden of infectious diseases, poor maternal and perinatal conditions and nutritional deficiencies.
Almost half of those who die from chronic diseases will be in their productive years.
The report also points to the fact that countries like Brazil, China, Russia and India currently lose more than 20 million productive life-years annually to chronic diseases. And the number is expected to grow by 65% by 2030.
Calling for the promotion and implementation of workplace health programmes globally, the report says it is possible to influence the health behaviour of a large chunk of the population through workplace environments.
In 2007, nearly 3.1 billion people were economically active. The figure is estimated to exceed 3.6 billion in 2020.
"The cost to employers of morbidity attributed to non-communicable diseases is increasingly rapidly. Workplaces should make possible healthy food choices and support physical activity. Unhealthy diets and excessive energy intake, physical inactivity and tobacco use are major risk factors for non-communicable diseases," the report said.
The study cited scientific evidence that healthy diet and adequate physical activity - at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five days a week - helped prevent NCDs.
How to combat, prevent and control NCD is one of the main agenda items in this year's WHA, that kicked off on Monday.
WHO has already prepared a draft plan in order to guide member states like India in working towards initiating a national programme to control NCDs. The plan asks member countries like India to reduce the level of exposure of their population to common modifiable risk factors like tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption.
India has already initiated a National Programme for Prevention and Control of Diabetes, CVDs and Stroke through a pilot project launched in seven states. Health minister A Ramadoss expressed concern.
"In India, 10% of adults suffer from hypertension while the country is home to 25-30 million diabetics. Three out of every 1,000 people suffer a stroke. The number of deaths due to heart attack is projected to increase from 1.2 million to 2 million in 2010," he said.