chronic diseases the new global epidemic: Michaol Klag

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Jaipur, Feb 13 (UNI) While the developed world is witnessing a shift in pattern of mortality from infectious diseases to chronic diseases countries like India has to wage a war on two fronts with the continuing high death rates from infectious diseases and increasing chronic diseases.

This was stated by Michael J Klag, dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health while addressing a press conference here today. Dr Klag was here to attend PD Agarwal memoriallecture.

This shift in pattern of mortality from infectious to chroric has been termed by demographers as the 'epidemiologic' transition. Dr Klag said ''the world is now in a position where chronic diseases are the leading cause of death. The World Health Organisation estimates that about 35 million deaths were due to chronic diseases in 2005.

Worldwide cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death followed by cancer and injuries''.

He said the same pattern holds true in the low and middle income countries like India with cardiovascular diseases being the third most frequent contributors to disability. India thus finds itself in the dilemma of many low and middle income countries were death rates from infectious diseases although declining are still high, while chronic disease mortality is increasing. ''It must fight a war on two fronts -against the traditional scorges of diarrhoea, pneumonia, and other infections while developing the infrastructure to combat chronic diseases''.

Dr Klag warned that there is a reason to believe that India will face a difficult future on the health front. It has been noted that since 1957 members of the Indian diaspora are at higher risk of coronory heart disease than other ethnic groups in US. This phenomenon has been demonstrated in Asia, Africa, Great britain, and the Carribbean islands.

High carbohyrate diet combined with genetic predisposition to abdominal adiposity are leading to decreased insulin sensitivity , which in turn leads to glucose intolerance and diabetes, lipid abonormalities and higher blood presure.

He said the matter was further complicated by the high prevalence of tobacco use among men. A very recent WHO Global Tobacco Control report indicates that the prevalance of tobacco use among adult men in India is 57 per cent with 17 per cent boys between 13 and 15 years of age.

He called for adjustment in lifestyle and diet to combat the health hazard of the Indians from chronic diseases.

UNI PJJ BDP RN1910

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