An urban lifestyle has much going in its favour – access to quality education, good infrastructure, swanky high rises and convenient retail options are just a few of the benefits. It’s not all champagne and roses, however, as many wallet-rich, time-poor urban residents compromise their health.
Statistically, every 12th person living in an urban area has reported suffering from chronic illness*. This was one of the key findings of the Annual Health Survey (AHS-2012-13) commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Planning Commission of India. The third round of study in 2012 – 2013 was conducted across the nine states in India that are most prone to health hazards: Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Assam. While these states account for only 48% of India’s population, they account for 70% of infant deaths, 75% of deaths of children under the age of five, and 62% of maternal deaths in the country. These figures clearly indicate that health care initiatives are among the most pressing social needs in these states.
The incidence of chronic illnesses is 15% higher in urban areas than in rural, but certain illnesses like diabetes and hypertension are distinctly urban problems. Diabetes, for instance, is four times more prevalent in urban areas than rural India. Similarly, the occurrence of hypertension is two times higher in urban India.
A state-by-state look at the prevalence of chronic illnesses in India shows that the urban and rural population of Assam need to urgently rein-in the spread of chronic illnesses. On the whole, the AHS survey findings indicate that urban residents are significantly unhealthier than their rural counterparts. As with elsewhere in the world, early diagnosis followed by prompt treatment are key ways to minimise the country’s disability-adjusted life years (DALY), the measure of overall disease burden.
*Chronic illness in this context is defined as any person with any symptom persisting for longer than one month in the last one year. The chronic illnesses were coded from the following list: Diabetes, Hypertension, Chronic heart disease, Myocardial infarction/Heart attack, Stroke/Cerebrovascular accident, Epilepsy, Asthma/Chronic respiratory disease, Goitre/Thyroid disorder, Tuberculosis, Leprosy, Cancer-Respiratory system, Cancer-Gastrointestinal system, Cancer-Genitourinary system, Cancer- Breast, Renal stone, Chronic renal disease, Gall stone/Cholecystitis, Chronic liver disease, Rheumatoid arthritis/Osteoarthritis, Chronic skin diseases/Psoriasis, Cataract, Glaucoma, Sinusitis, Tonsillitis, Flourosis, Pyorrhea, Rheumatic fever/Rheumatic heart disease, Tumour (any type), Blood Cancer/ Leukemia, Skin cancer, Piles, Anal fissure, Anal Fistula, Anaemia, Others (Hernia, Hydrocele, peptic ulcer etc.)
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