• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Infections: Facts, Stats and Trends in India

What is an Infection?

Infection or infectious diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms. These involve infectious agents like bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi. These are communicable diseases and can be spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another. Zoonotic diseases that cause infection in animals can also cause diseases in humans when transmitted.

India is on the verge of development, and that is one reason that also makes it suffer disproportionately from the burden of infectious diseases. Some facts about infectious diseases, statistics about infection and recent trends are detailed below.

Some Facts on Infectious Diseases in India

  1. India is the second major among highly populated countries that suffers from a triple burden of diseases – communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, and the risk of creating new pathogens.

  2. Communicable diseases in India are rising due to poor hygiene and sanitation practices, consumption of contaminated food, access to safe water and lack of basic health services.

  3. India having favourable environmental conditions, demographic and socio-economic conditions is at risk of epidemics of emerging infections.

  4. Over the years, due to lack of people compliance towards antibiotics, there is an increase in the cases of drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, HIV and co-infections. This has demonstrated India to be a vulnerable country to the threat of evolving bacteria and viruses.

  5. Emerging infections like COVID-19, SARS also present a grave economic, developmental and security challenge.

Statistics

  1. According to the Lancet Global Burden of Disease Study in 2016, the deaths due to communicable diseases/ infections in India was found to be  27.5%. Whereas, 61.8% of the total deaths contributed to non-communicable diseases.

  2. Globally, around 3 million children die each year from diarrhoeal diseases or Malaria.

  3. A research study has reported that the prevalence of infectious diseases has remained stagnant in the past decade.  However, the burden of morbidity and mortality due to infectious diseases is found to be heavy in developing countries like India, particularly affecting the infants and children. The most vulnerable age group to suffer and die from communicable diseases falls between the age group 0-14 years.

  4. Most common communicable diseases with which people are suffering in India include diarrhoea, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and HIV.

  5. Certain parameters recommended by WHO for the prevention and control of emerging infectious diseases include the application of sophisticated epidemiologic and molecular biologic technologies, a national policy on early detection of and rapid response to emerging infections and a plan of action.

Recent Trends for Combatting Existing And Emerging Infections

  1. Acute febrile illness (AFI) surveillance platform has been set up to identify diseases causing high fevers. The diseases identified include influenza virus, malaria, dengue virus, typhoid, leptospirosis, and Kyasanur Forest Disease virus. It has reported that these infectious diseases account for over 80% of illnesses that start with a high fever.

  2. Installation of the surveillance system has carried out in various hospitals and healthcare-associated infections.

  3. Implementation of training facilities for laboratorians around the country on quality diagnostic testing/reporting of priority diseases.

  4. Vaccination during the pre-monsoon period has initiated to treat the seasonal influenza flu.

  5. ‘Treat All’ – A programme initiated by CDC.gov.in for HIV patients which helped the patients with various life-saving opportunities.

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