India makes significant progress against HIV/AIDS, lags behind in fighting tuberculosis (TB) and malaria

Fewer people in India are dying from HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis(TB), and malaria than a decade ago, but Indians still face enormous health threats from the three diseases, according to a new, first-of-its-kind analysis of trend data. The pace of decline in deaths and infections has accelerated since 2000, when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established worldwide to stop the spread of these diseases by 2015.

Of the three diseases, India has made the most progress against HIV/AIDS. The Indian annual rate of decline in new infections since 2000 was more than four times that of the worldwide rate, a decrease of 16.3% per year compared to the global drop of 3.9%. Gains during the same time period for TB and malaria were only slightly higher than the worldwide average.

Published in The Lancet on July 22, the study “Global, regional, and national incidence and mortality for HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria during 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013”, was conducted by an international consortium of more than 1,000 researchers from 106 countries, and was led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. The research consortium included nearly 20 experts in India.

The GBD 2013 study provides a consistent and comprehensive approach to estimating the impact in India and around the world of HIV, TB, and malaria from 1990 to 2013. In a novel approach, IHME analyzed and triangulated incidence, prevalence, and deaths over time. Special emphasis was also given to incorporating new data, more rigorously identifying sources of uncertainty, and accounting for biases that may be present in various data sources.

“This massive new study, on the eve of the end of the MDG era, documents impressive recent progress against HIV and malaria, in particular, but it also shows that much more needs to be done,” said Dr Alan Lopez, Melbourne Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne and co-founder of the GBD study. “All three are major causes of health loss in poor countries, and all three should be a key focus of concerted global health action and support. Without it, we risk stagnation, or even worse, unconscionable reversal of recent gains.”

Reacting to the findings of the study, Professor Vivekanand Jha of The George Institute for Global Health, who is one of the co-authors from India, said it was really a matter of great concern that despite global progress in tackling malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, the Indian average was only slightly higher. "These are findings of great significance for India and it goes to show that we need to take public health much more seriously than we have done so far in this country."

With the rising burden of non-communicable diseases, pre-mature death and disability are on the rise in India posing even greater challenges for public health. "Increasing investments in the area of public health, looking at new ways of delivering health care and us eof technology can make a crucial difference," says Dr Jha, adding: "A radically new approach to health care delivery is the urgent need of the hour."

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Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world’s most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them. IHME makes this information widely available so that policymakers have the evidence they need to make informed decisions about how to allocate resources to best improve population health.

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