Air pollution and NCDs a biggest matter of concern

The annual Economic Survey was tabled in both Houses of the Parliament. Chief Economic Adviser Dr Arvind Subramanian briefed the media on Economic Survey 17-18. The Survey takes a note of the shift in the disease burden from communicable diseases to noncommunicable diseases in the country between 1990 and 2016. The Survey mentions that child and maternal malnutrition continues to be the most challenging risk factor for health loss in India in 2016. The other key risk factors include air pollution, dietary risks, high blood pressure, diabetes and so on


The Economic Survey 2017- 18 reiterates India‘s commitment to achieve the targets under Sustainable Development Goals-3 (SDG-3) with some of them also aligned with the National Health Policy 2017. This was stated in the Economic Survey 2017-18 tabled in Parliament today by the Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Arun Jaitley.

Highlights of the survey:

  • The Survey takes a note of the National Health Policy 2017 which recommended increasing state sector health spending to more than 8 per cent of the state government budget by 2020.
  • Economic Survey expresses concern over air pollution, suggests coordination among agencies, government and civic engagement
  • It also takes note of the Report India: Health of Nation‘s States‘ 2017‘, which provides the first comprehensive set of findings for the distribution of diseases and risk factors across all States from 1990 to 2016.
  • The Survey notes that there has been significant improvement in the health status of individuals in India as life expectancy at birth has increased by 10 years during the period 1990 to 2015.
  • There are wide differences in the average prices of diagnostic tests across cities which need to be addressed by standardising rates to reduce Out of Pocket Expenses (OPE) on health services.
  • quality of hygiene and sanitation has significant impact on improving the health outcomes. With the launch of Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) on 2nd October, 2014, the sanitation coverage in rural India has increased substantially from 39 per cent in 2014 to 76 per cent in January, 2018.
  • The number of persons defecating in open in rural areas, which were 55 crore in October, 2014 declined to 25 crore in January, 2018. So far, 296 districts and 307,349 villages all over India have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Eight states and two union territories. i.e., Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Daman & Diu and Chandigarh have been declared as ODF completely.
  • The concept of Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) has been developed to provide a framework for analysing the disease burden and risk factors. The Survey advocates there is a need to understand the efficiency of public spending with respect to DALYs behaviour across the major States and to assess whether high-spending by States on health results in better health outcomes.