China outperforms India in tackling `double-burden` of diseases

Geneva: China has outperformed India in
tackling the "double-burden" of diseases that includes
infectious diseases affecting the poor on the one hand and
chronic lifestyle ailments typical of fast urbanisation on the
other, a WHO report has said.

While India`s life expectancy has shot up to 65 years
in 2009, up from 61 years in 2000, China has improved the same
to 74 years during the last 10 years.

Besides, China`s targeted health expenditure and
growing coverage of health insurance has made a remarkable
dent since 2003, says a report released by the World Health
Organisation ahead of the 64th World Health Assembly here.

India faces high levels of maternal and child
mortality, increasing burden of infectious diseases
particularly among the poor, and growing incidence of
non-communicable diseases in the well-to-do sections of the
middle classes, the report says.

The average life expectancy of a male in India is now
63 as compared to 60 a decade ago, while a female lives 66
years, in India.

"Life expectancy and overall health of Indians has
been impressive notwithstanding high levels maternal and child
mortality, high income disparities, and increasing infectious
and non-communicable (heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and
cancer) diseases," says Colin Mathers, Coordinator of
Mortality and Burden of Disease at WHO.

WHO`s latest "World Health Statistics 2011" offers a
graphic account of how nations are spending their funds on
health sector and how they are addressing major diseases. It
calls on governments to spend more in a focused-manner to
avoid the rising mortalities from the infectious diseases that
plague the poor in the society and the so-called
non-communicable diseases of the growing middle classes".

Global life expectancy was 68 years in 2009 as
compared to 64 years in 1990.

A big part of the problem is due to vast disparities
in health spending between low and high income countries.

While per capita health expenditure is about USD 32 in poor
countries, including in India, it is around USD 4590 in rich
countries which have 10 times more doctors, 12 times more
nurses and midwifes and 30 times more dentists.

The report reminds governments grimly, including
India, that they are facing a "double burden of disease".

It involves a sudden spike in infectious diseases that
cause maximum child and maternal mortality coupled with
chronic non-communicable diseases - such as diabetes, heart
diseases, and cancers - caused by globalisation and

Despite high economic growth in the last decade, India
continues to be one of the highest disease-burdened countries
in the world in absolute terms.

While the infant mortality is 50 per 1000 lives, the
mortality of children below 5 years is 66 per 1000 lives.

Though the infant and child mortality has dropped
steeply over the 10 years, it remains still high as compared
to China which has seen spectacular improvements in this area.

The infant mortality in China is about 17 per 1000 and
22 per 1000 for children below 5 years.

"Since 2003, China has rapidly increased health
insurance which contributed to significant improvements in the
health sector," Ties Boerma, director of WHO`s Department of
Health Statistics and Informatics.

India also faces the spectre of non-communicable
diseases -- heart diseases, stroke, diabetes and cancer --
which currently make up two-thirds of all deaths globally.

The report says the increase in the non-communicable
diseases in India and elsewhere is due to ageing population
and spread of risk factors associated with globalisation and
urbanisation and coupled with increasing use of tobacco,
sedentary life styles, unhealthy diet and excessive use of