A government health survey conducted across 26 states and Union Territories has found that more than a fifth of India’s 125-crore population suffers from diabetes and hypertension. According to the National Family Health Survey-4, whose results were released on Tuesday, the overall incidence of diabetes was 20.3 per cent and that of hypertension 22.2 per cent. While there would be some commonality in the data — some people suffer from both — the actual numbers exceed the estimations.
This is the first time the government has conducted a survey to find out the incidence of diabetes and hypertension. An earlier attempt to do so under the National programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke did not quite take off, and the initial data had suggested a far lower incidence — about 6 per cent for diabetes and 8 per cent for hypertension. However, as a senior health ministry official said, the sample size in NFHS is too small to be representative of the entire country.
NFHS-4, conducted in 2015-16, recorded data from 6 lakh households, covering 7 lakh women and 1.3 lakh men. Some of the states where the incidence of diabetes was found to be higher than the national average include Goa (33.7 per cent), West Bengal (28.2 per cent), Assam (34.6 per cent) and Odisha (27.2 per cent). States with a higher incidence of hypertension include Punjab (35 per cent), Sikkim (44.8 per cent) and Maharashtra (26 per cent).
The data shows that like in previous editions of the survey, deliveries by caesarean section are disproportionately high in private hospitals as compared to government ones, taking the overall incidence of such deliveries way above the 25 per cent that WHO says is the expected rate in any population. The percentage of caesarean sections is the highest in private hospitals of urban Tripura — 87.1 per cent. Urban private hospitals of Telangana are a close second with 74.8 per cent caesarean deliveries, and West Bengal comes third with 74.7 per cent.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi recently raised the issue of an “alarming percentage” of caesarean deliveries, advocating naming and shaming of guilty doctors. She took up the matter with Health Minister J P Nadda, but health ministry officials say there is not much the ministry can do on the issue except to issue advisories.
The sex ratio improved from 914 to 919 at the national level over the last decade, with the top three states being Kerala (1,047), Meghalaya (1,009) and Chhattisgarh (977). In Haryana — where Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to launch the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme — the sex ratio went down from 897 in NFHS-3 to 876.
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