With a survey by a leading health sector research organisation indicating a "growth in Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) related mortality" in Punjab, experts on Wednesday sought effective surveillance and greater investment in health care.
"According to a state-wide survey by PGIMER along with four medical colleges in 2014-2015, Punjab has been witnessing a disturbing growth in NCDs related mortality," Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (PFCD), a global organisation committed to raising awareness about NCDs, noted here on Wednesday.
"Despite Punjab being a prosperous state, it has not been able to realise its true potential because of the growing human and economic toll due to chronic diseases," PFCD chairman Dr. Kenneth E. Thorpe said.
"Efforts need to be taken to strengthen primary care, screening and diagnosis, besides improving access to quality health care and financing mechanisms," he said.
The survey provided an alarming data on diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic lung diseases in the state.
"Their is an urgent need to implement population, individual and programme wide prevention and control interventions to lower the serious consequences of NCDs," Thorpe said.
Public health experts for long have demanded a multifaceted surveillance system to measure the burden of risk factors, its associated health care utilisation and out of pocket costs, for evidence based decision making, a PFCD spokesperson said.
Throwing light on the environmental and dietary factors, Dr. S. K. Jindal, an Emeritus Professor of Pulmonary Medicine at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (PGIMER)-Chandigarh said: "Obesity is emerging as a major problem in Punjab with nearly 15 per cent of adults suffering from it due to the high consumption of fatty meals and sodium intake."
"This coupled with lack of physical exercise and sedentary lifestyles pose a serious challenge to the socio-economic set-up rooting to hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular and other non communicable diseases."
"Fortunately, tobacco smoking, an important risk-factor is less common in Punjab, but air pollution due to vehicular and industrial exhausts as well as house-hold combustion of biomass fuels is particularly important for chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases," Jindal said.
If intervention was not made, things could become worse owing to high cost of medicines and longer duration of treatment of NCDs, Jindal said.
"Currently there is inadequate awareness on NCDs and their risk factors. The state should initiate robust and institutionalised NCD surveillance systems to prioritise health as an investment that will pay dividends in the form of a healthier working population," the PFCD spokesperson said.
"Additionally, structural cost-effective policy reforms should be implemented that will reduce the burden on the people," he added.
Chronic diseases, according to PFCD, contribute to an estimated 53 per cent of deaths in the country.
"Factually, the survey in Punjab reflects a pattern of NCDs in India and stresses the need for similar assessments for other states," it pointed out.