Indians are getting sick mostly due to infections: NSSO report

Treatment of cardiovascular diseases cost a bomb in rural India

By Banjot Kaur
Published: Monday 25 November 2019

Among all ailments, it is infections that are making Indians the most sick. And, this is true for both, rural and urban areas, according to latest study of the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO).

These infections include malaria, viral hepatitis / jaundice, acute diarrhoeal diseases / dysentery, dengue fever, chikungunya, measles, acute encephalitis syndrome, typhoid, hookworm infection filariasis, tuberculosis and others.

Rural areas are more affected by them than the urban ones, the NSSO’s study, conducted from July 2017-June 2018, said. 

In rural areas, 35.7 per cent of all ailments are due to infections. The upper and lower respiratory infections are not included in the category of infections in the report, which cause about 10.8 per cent of illness there. If they are, the total contribution of infectious diseases to all ailments in rural areas would go up to 46.7 per cent.

Similarly, in urban areas, 25.4 per cent people fell sick due to diseases caused by infections. When respiratory diseases caused by infections (9.5 per cent) are added, the contribution of infectious diseases in urban areas becomes 34.9 per cent.

Hospitalisations due to infections go up

As reflected in the last NSSO round on health, the hospitalisations caused due to infectious diseases are the highest. However, what the current report suggests is that in both, rural and urban areas, the hospitalisations due to infections have gone up.

According to the last NSSO round on health, the total number of people admitted in rural hospitals to get treatment for infectious diseases as compared to others was 25 per cent.

In the current report, this number is 31.3 per cent.  For urban areas, the last report said 24 per cent people were hospitalised due to infections. This has gone up to 31.6 per cent in the latest round.

After infections, endocrine diseases like diabetes and thyroid affected people the most. In urban areas, they accounted for 20.8 per cent of ailments, followed by cardiovascular diseases (21.9 per cent) like hypertension and heart disease and musculoskeletal (7.6 per cent) ones like joint pain, back and body aches.

In rural areas, however, after infections, cardiovascular diseases affected the most (13.8 per cent) followed by endocrine (11.6 per cent) and musculoskeletal ones.

Injuries accounted for the maximum share in both urban and rural areas among hospitalisations due to diseases other than infections. They were followed by gastro-intestinal, cardiovascular, musculoskeletal diseases and neurological illnesses.

Expenditure on health

Cancer is making people shell out the most in both urban and rural areas. In rural areas, the average medical expense during hospital stay for each case was over Rs 56,000 while in urban areas it was over Rs 68,000.

In rural and urban areas, people are spending Rs 27,136 and Rs 47,788 per case in every hospital stay for treating cardio-vascular ailments, the maximum after cancer.

Overall, out of five quintiles of the population classified on the basis of total household expenditure, the first one (lowest 20 per cent of population) registered the lowest the number of hospitalisations.

The upper the quintile, the more the number of hospitalisations. This is so because a majority in the first, also the lowest quintile, is not covered under any type of health expenditure scheme.

In rural areas, 89 per cent in the first quintile are not covered while in urban areas 90.4 per cent are not of the same quintile.

And what accounts for maximum expenditure? Medicines. Out of five major components of expenditure — doctor’s fee, medicines, diagnostic tests, bed charges, medicines and others, people spend Rs 6,818 on medicines per hospitalisation per patient in private hospitals.

Even in public hospitals, the maximum expenditure is on medicines in rural areas, thus pointing to inaccessibility of drugs there, despite several government schemes existing to that effect.

In urban areas, people spend maximum on packages, Rs 1,53,800 per hospitalisation per stay in private hospitals.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.