December 10, 2023

Syllabus- General Studies 2(Health)


  • The second wave Covid has shook the country with widespread infection and high number of cases.
  • However, despite the spike in cases, the average Covid patient in India faces 50 per cent less risk of mortality compared to the global average.
  • India’s Covid case fatality at 1.16 per cent is nearly half of the global average of 2.17 per cent.


  • Studies have shown that over 70 per cent of mortalities associated with Covid are due to underlying noncommunicable diseases (NCD) like diabetes, cardiovascular ailments and cancer.
  • A study by the NCD team, Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Viatris shows that every 10% decline in the NCD mortality rate leads to a 20% decline in Covid mortality rate.

Where does India stand ?

  • India’s remarkable efforts at reducing mortalities due to NCD like chronic lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases (CVD) have yielded positive outcomes for reduced Covid case fatality.
  • A comparison with other countries in the neighbourhood shows India’s better performance in Covid fatality rates is related to its controlled NCD mortalities.
  • India’s NCD mortality rate at 558 per 1 Lac population is significantly less than its neighbours and, correspondingly, the Covid case fatality rate in India is significantly better.

What is India’s NCD strategy ?

  • India began implementing the multi sector NCD action plan to achieve 25 per cent reduction in premature mortalities due to NCD by 2025.
  • Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat scheme– is a major initiative, which will invest over Rs 64,000 crore in setting up 17,800 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres, 602 critical care hospitals in districts and associated chain of laboratories and virology centres.
  • Under the Ayushman Bharat programme and the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, India’s investments in strengthening primary health care and providing financial protection to nearly 100 million people are of critical importance.
  • Under Ayushman Bharat, India has expanded the scope of primary healthcare to include screening and diagnosis of NCDs like Cardio Vascular Disease, cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.
  • Nearly 1,20,000 primary health care centers(PHCs) which were earlier focused only on
    • vaccinations against communicable diseases and
    • mother and child care,

are being converted into health and wellness centres where primary care for NCD is becoming available.

  • The PM’s health insurance scheme covers 100 million of the most vulnerable population and eliminates out-of-pocket expenditures for the poorest (which could be as high as 72 per cent if not covered by public insurance.)
  • Under the PM Ujjwala Yojana, the replacement of polluting fuel wood with LPG, in 90 million families has significantly reduced the risk of the chronic lung diseases and cancer that women were exposed to.

The results are slowly visible in the steady decline in NCD mortality rates since 2014.

Way Forward

The World Health Assembly has called for jointly tackling the twin challenges of the Covid pandemic and the underlying NCD morbidities.

  • A key lesson is to synergise the strengthening of health sector by ensuring
    • universal access to screening for NCD and
    • application of AI paired with telemedicine-

to continue healthcare for NCD patients to overcome the severe challenges which the lockdown imposes on continuity of health services.

  • The vaccination against Covid, the track and trace strategy and Covid testing should be exploited as opportunities to detect undiagnosed patients living with diabetes or cardiovascular diseases and providing them with telemedicine-based protocols of self-care.
  • Ultimately, India, like the world, will be able to come out of the Covid pandemic by strengthening health infrastructure through the Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat programme so that the overall disease burden in society like diabetes, CVDs and cancer are reduced.

Achieving the SDG by reducing one-third of premature mortalities due to NCD will make India resilient to the viral pandemics of the future.

Question- The Covid pandemic has actually revealed the underlying non-communicable disease (NCD) pandemic. Describe how the prevention and curing of NCDs can complement the efforts of the fight against Covid.

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