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State of health in India - statistics & facts

With the second-largest population in the world, India is home to over 1.3 billion people. At an average of two children born per woman in 2018, the country’s birth rate stood at 18.6 for every thousand inhabitants. The average life expectancy has seen a consistent increase since the 1920s and was around 69 years in 2017. However, this was still lower than the global average of around 72 years. That same year, the country’s death rate was recorded at about 7.2 deaths for every thousand inhabitants. Infant mortality has also been on a steady decline over the years due to increased attention to providing special newborn care units, routine immunization and access to basic mother and child care facilities. Moreover, female infanticide and gender-selective abortions have seen a relative decline in the country ever since government regulations made such procedures illegal.

Despite these positive indications, India had the highest number of undernourished people in the Asia pacific region. And even though undernourishment was largely seen among low income families, it was surprisingly also observed among Indians who were from higher socio-economic classes. Growing fast food consumption, unhealthy diet trends and an inactive lifestyle were some of the main contributing factors for this. A large-scale survey from 2019 found that 70 percent of Indian women and 59 percent Indian men were unhealthy based on their diet and lifestyle. Heart disease has been one of the leading causes of death in India for over two decades, along with an increasing propensity for cancer and diabetes.

India has made significant progress in reducing the number of vector-borne disease fatalities, but it remains a problem in many regions of the country. In 2017, the country recorded the highest number of malaria cases throughout the Asia Pacific region. Other life-threatening diseases that were prevalent in the country were dengue, typhoid, tuberculosis, and HIV-AIDS. In addition to this, the share of mental health disorders among adults stood at around 14.3 percent in 2017. The most observed issues were idiopathic developmental intellectual disorders and anxiety disorders. Even then, the awareness about mental health and access to help was relatively low in the country leading to high suicide rates.

In 2020, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak came as a blow to India just like the rest of the world. The first cases were reported in the country in late February and since then, the number of infected people has been growing consistently. To control the spread of the virus, a strict lockdown was implemented from mid-March until late May. Even then, local outbreaks have continued to spread. As of June 2020, the country had reported over 9,500 fatalities due to COVID-19 and over 169 thousand recoveries.

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State of health in India

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