China outperforms India in tackling double-burden of diseases

China outperforms India in tackling double-burden of diseases

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 urbanization.