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Budget Cuts Could Boost 5 Water-Borne Diseases

Devanik Saha,
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A national scheme to supply rural India with safe water is one of eight centrally-sponsored schemes that New Delhi will no longer support, threatening disease outbreaks and potentially placing lives at risk.


India loses 200 million person days and Rs 36,600 crore every year due to water-related diseases.


With India struggling with an old and continuing health crisis, there were hopes that healthcare spending would be boosted, but the healthcare budget was cut by 15%, as IndiaSpend reported.


The National Rural Drinking Water Program (NRDWP)–launched in 2009–was allocated Rs 11,000 crore in 2013-14. When it took charge in May 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government cut funding to Rs 3,600 crore for a programme that aims to provide safe drinking water to 20,000 villages and hamlets across India.


Here is our analyses of five diseases caused by contaminated water:


Diarrhoea: Among 15 high-burden countries, India ranks third from the bottom for its use of life-saving intervention for children at risk of dying from diarrhoea and pneumonia, according to this 2014 study. Although diarrhoeal disease cases decreased 8% from 11.7 million in 2012 to 10.7 million in 2013, a lot needs to be done. In 2014, 7.6 million cases were registered, when last counted.

Source: National Health Profile 2013, Lok Sabha; *2014 figures are up to September


Typhoid: The number of typhoid cases have increased 65% from 0.93 million cases in 2008 to 1.53 million in 2013, although deaths due to typhoid hovered around the 350-to-450 range. In 2014, 1.09 million cases were registered.


Source: National Health Profile 2013, Lok Sabha; *2014 figures are up to September


Acute Encephalitis Syndrome: Cases and deaths due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) is an increasing problem in India. AES cases increased 159% from 3,855 in 2008 to 9,996 in 2014, while deaths increased by 122% from 684  in 2008 to 1,518 deaths in 2014.


Source: National Health Profile 2013, Lok Sabha; *2014 figures are up to September


Viral Hepatitis: Viral Hepatitis cases reduced by 12% from 0.118 million in 2012 to 0.104 million in 2013. But the disease is a threat, capable of resurgence: In 2014, 0.09 million cases were registered at last count.

Source: National Health Profile 2013, Lok Sabha; *2014 figures are up to September


Cholera: India has made significant strides in cholera over the past few decades. While cholera deaths are negligible and cholera cases decreased by 77% from 5004 in 2010 to 1127 in 2013, they surged by 137% in 2014, when last counted.
Source: National Health Profile 2013, Lok Sabha; *2014 figures are up to September


Although health is a state subject and the responsibility for providing healthcare facilities primarily lies with the respective state governments, support from the Centre is vital in addressing these crises.


(Devanik Saha is Data Editor at The Political Indian.)


Image Credit:Wikimedia Commons




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  1. Gulrez Shah Azhar Reply

    March 7, 2015 at 7:56 am

    Infectious disease burden in Gujarat (2005-2011): comparison of selected infectious disease rates with India

    Background: India is known to be endemic to numerous infectious diseases. The infectious disease profile of India is changing due to increased human environmental interactions, urbanisation and climate change. There are also predictions of explosive growth in infectious and zoonotic diseases. The Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) was implemented in Gujarat in 2004.

    Methods: We analysed IDSP data on seven laboratory confirmed infectious diseases from 2005–2011 on temporal and spatial trends and compared this to the National Health Profile (NHP) data for the same period and with other literature. We chose laboratory cases data for Enteric fever, Cholera, Hepatitis, Dengue, Chikungunya, Measles and Diphtheria in the state since well designed vertical programs do not exist for these diseases. Statistical and GIS analysis was done using appropriate software.

    Results: Our analysis shows that the existing surveillance system in the state is predominantly reporting urban cases. There are wide variations among reported cases within the state with reports of Enteric fever and Measles being less than half of the national average, while Cholera, Viral Hepatitis and Dengue being nearly double.

    Conclusions: We found some limitations in the IDSP system with regard to the number of reporting units and cases in the background of a mixed health system with multiplicity of treatment providers and payment mechanisms. Despite these limitations, IDSP can be strengthened into a comprehensive surveillance system capable of tackling the challenge of reversing the endemicity of these diseases and preventing the emergence of others.


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