Thursday, 15 October 2015

Launch of State-level Disease Burden Initiative

In collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

India has been going through a major epidemiological transition over the past 25 years. The burden of premature death and health loss due to NCDs and non-infectious conditions remains unacceptably high. The extent of this burden is expected to vary appreciably across the various population groups and states in India. The national level estimates fail to provide enough insights and data to contemplate a targeted action. Hence a sub national, region specific estimation of disease burden is essential for India in order to develop an informed health system response to improve the population’s health.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) under the aegis of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India have launched a collaborative initiative on state level disease estimation in India. This effort would extensively employ the robust methods of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, developed by a global network of researchers coordinated by IHME. This will help in generating rigorous estimates of all major drivers of health loss at the state level in India. This would also include the state-of-the-art GBD interactive visualisation tools which would help bring to life the initiative’s findings.

India has a vast landscape with tremendous regional health variations. Well researched estimations can enable the government to adopt a more targeted approach and help decide what needs to be done where, for whom and when. As rightly identified by Prof.Lalit Dandona, who will serve as the Director of the joint initiative, many Indian states are bigger than most countries in the world. Planning effective health improvements for one sixth of the world’s population without taking into consideration the variation in disease burden trends across the states cannot yield optimal outcomes. This collaborative effort of the state level disease burden initiative, is a unique opportunity that would help generate better evidence for the disease trend variation across India and also help developing useful data generation systems to aid in effective health planning on an ongoing basis at local levels in India.

This initiative would work closely with a network of academic partners across India, and primarily with policy makers at the national and state level for guidance and utilization of the findings to improve health programs and planning.

The contribution of risk factors such as high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, and that of poor diet and alcohol use, to health loss has doubled in India over the past two decades, and air pollution and tobacco smoking continue to be major contributors to health loss. However, the extent of these risk factors varies considerably across the states of India. The efforts of the State-level Disease Burden Initiative would help refine the understanding of these variations across India, which would in turn form appropriate strategies for the different states of Indiaas well as aid in the improvement of systems to produce these estimates on an ongoing basis to monitor changing trends at the local levels.  

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