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Chronic diseases and injuries now number one killer in rural India

Cardiovascular disease is now a leading cause of death in rural India, according to new research published by The George Institute for International Health and The University of Queensland. The findings from a large survey conducted in Andhra Pradesh, India, highlights the rapid growth of chronic diseases and injuries in developing countries. Published this week in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the report raises significant concerns for hundreds of millions of individuals living in rural India. The report highlights the need for the development of new health care services to address this huge new burden of chronic diseases.

In line with India's rapid economic and societal changes, there has been a shift in focus from infectious disease. Diseases of the cardiovascular system, such as heart attacks and stroke, caused 32% of deaths in this region. Death from injury (self-inflicted injury, falls, etc) was the second most common cause (13%). Infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, intestinal infections and HIV/AIDs caused only about 12% of deaths just ahead of cancer that caused 7% of deaths.

Dr Rohina Joshi of The George Institute said this research shows a new pattern of mortality and highlights areas that require urgent attention. "This 'causes of death' data is a key indicator of the health problems now facing rural India.

While health systems have been designed mostly to cope with infectious diseases, we now need services that can deliver care and prevention for chronic diseases," said Dr Joshi.

Professor Alan Lopez of The University of Queensland, who has led similar studies in Asia and Africa, said that the findings were an urgent call for action to control chronic diseases in developing countries. "Far too little attention has been devoted to preventing adult death in poor countries, in part because we have not fully appreciated how common these diseases already are in these countries," he said.

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Contact: Emma Orpilla
eorpilla@thegeorgeinstitute.org
61-299-934-592
Research Australia
28-Sep-2006


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