• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Respiratory Diseases: Facts, Stats, and Trends, In India

Respiratory disease or lung disease is a condition that negatively affects the functioning of the lungs, respiratory tract, or both. It is very common and prevalent in India.

Human lungs

Lung disease, Image Credit: Wikipedia


Global and National Extent

  1. According to WHO, in India, deaths due to respiratory diseases account for 11% of total deaths in the country.

  2. In every one lakh people, an estimated amount of 142 people die from lung disease.

  3. The country bears 18% of the world population but 32% of the global burden of respiratory diseases.

Common Respiratory Diseases in India

The most common lung diseases that cause major health problems in India are:

● Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

This condition has been showing increasing trends in the country since the 1990s and the rates have surpassed Pulmonary tuberculosis in recent years. The cases have increased from 28 million in 1990 to 55.3  million in 2016.

In spite of this condition being highly treatable, half a million Indians die every year due to the lack of awareness and underdiagnosis.

The main symptoms that get ignored are breathlessness and coughing as people associate that with old age.

Sometimes, the condition also gets mistaken for asthma due to its similar symptoms. One must note that Asthma causes acute attacks but the person still has a normal lung function while in case of COPD, the lung conditions deteriorate and if not treated adequately or effectively, it is very fatal.

sick baby girl

Infants suffering from pneumonia, Image Credit: flickr


● Pneumonia

According to WHO, India had the second-highest number of deaths (127,000)  in children under the age of 5 due to pneumonia in 2018. They are then followed by Pakistan (58,000), the Democratic Republic of Congo (40,000), and Ethiopia (32,000).

WHO claims that 1 in every 39 children are at risk.

Researchers also claim that one of the factors that were linked with these deaths was poverty which resulted in a lack of access to drinking water, inadequate health care, undernutrition, and excessive air pollution in India.

● Pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB)

According to WHO in 2018, the number of TB cases was estimated to be around 2.69 million that year. This means that every 199 out of 100,000 people in India suffer from this disease.

Uttar Pradesh contributes to 17% of the population but accounts for 20% of the total TB cases in India with around 420,000 reported cases.

One of the reasons for such high numbers is due to poverty as a large sum of the population cannot diagnosis, care, or treatment of prescribed drugs.

Currently, only the 1.5 million patients already under the Indian government’s care get free treatments for TB.

● Asthma

About 6% of adults and 2% of children India’s 1.31 billion population and accounts for 10-20% of the reported cases that are related to respiratory disease.

In 2015, there were approximately 358.2 million reported cases with 0.44 million deaths. Developing countries like India account for 80% of asthma deaths worldwide.

One of the major reasons for the increase in asthma cases is due to the heavy economic burden in a developing country. From the year 2012 to 2016, there has been a 43% increase in the prices in healthcare and treatment.

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