India shares 21 percent of global diseases: WHO

January 7th, 2011 - 7:59 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 7 (IANS) India needs to dramatically improve its health situation to sustain growth as it shares 21 percent of the global disease burden, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said Friday.Speaking at a seminar on “Public Heath: Engaging the diaspora” on the first day of Pravasi Bharti Diwas function here, Nata Menabde, the WHO representative in India, said no country had succeeded without solving basic health problems.

According to Menabde, India has 17 percent of the world’s population but its total share of global disease burden is 21 percent.

“It is not doing well in the global context,” she said, adding that 42 percent of the disease burden related to communicable diseases.

Menabde said that money cannot be an excuse in providing health care as the country loses almost six percent of GDP “due to poor health of people”.

She said the World Bank had estimated that India loses 54 billion dollars annually “in various diseases” and loss of productivity.

She suggested inter-sectoral action to improve health care through infrastucture development including sanitation, roads and water and called for improvement of health systems.

Ramesh Mehta, president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), said there were 1.2 million Indian doctors worldwide and all of them have a feeling for their motherland.

“Many of them are doing work individually. We are keen to coordinate the efforts to make it more efficient,” Mehta said.

Keshav Desiraju, additional secretary at the ministry of health and family welfare, said that primary health centres were not functioning at optimum levels in many states and more doctors were needed in rural areas.

Prabhat Jha, professor at Toronto University, said that affordable antigens were not being chosen for rural areas and said the diaspora could be moblised for better research.

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