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 2019. 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 7.3 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 indicators, 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 almost 61 percent of Indian women and close to 47 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, however, it remains a problem in many regions across the country. In 2020, 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. 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.
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