15/09/2017 7:49 AM IST | Updated 15/09/2017 9:15 AM IST

Health Is Improving Globally, But India Still Has The Most Child Deaths

Heart disease is the leading killer of Indian adults

Jayanta Dey / Reuters
A medical worker administers polio drops to an infant at a hospital during the pulse polio immunization programme in Agartala, capital city of India's northeastern state of Tripura, January 18, 2015. The programme aims to immunize every child in the country under five years of age with the oral polio vaccine. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey (INDIA - Tags: HEALTH SOCIETY)

India still has the largest share of deaths of children under the age of five, new data from the Global Burden of Disease (2016), published early on Friday morning in the medical journal Lancet, shows.

The GBD is the only annual, comprehensive, peer-reviewed assessment of global trends in health, providing global and national estimates on more than 330 diseases, causes of death, and injuries in 195 countries across the world. The study is coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle (USA).

Mortality rates have declined across all age groups, with the greatest progress made in under 5 mortality. Deaths among children under the age of 5 decreased to fewer than 5 million in 2016 for the first time, down from 16.4 million in 1970. But in absolute terms, the largest number of under-5 deaths nationally in 2016 occurred in India at 0.9 million followed by Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Non-communicable diseases accounted for 72.3% of all deaths (39.5 million) in 2016. Ischemic heart disease was the leading cause of premature mortality in all regions, apart from in low income countries where the leading cause was lower respiratory infections. Globally, ischemic heart disease caused a total of 9.48 million deaths in 2016--an increase of 19% globally since 2006, and was the leading cause of death in India too. Diabetes caused 1.43 million deaths globally in 2016, an increase of 31.1% since 2006.

Overall, deaths from infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria have decreased. Exceptions included dengue which saw a significant increase, causing 37,800 deaths in 2016 (81.8% increase since 2006), and extensively drug resistant tuberculosis which caused 10,900 deaths in 2016 (67.6% increase since 2006).

Tobacco was responsible for more than 7.1 million deaths. Poor diets were associated with nearly 1 in 5 (18.8%) of all deaths. In addition, high blood glucose, high blood pressure, high body mass index (BMI), and high total cholesterol, were all in the top ten leading risk factors for death for men and women globally.

"Our findings indicate people are living longer and, over the past decade, we identified substantial progress in driving down death rates from some of the world's most pernicious diseases and conditions, such as under age-5 mortality and malaria," said Dr. Christopher Murray, IHME's director. "Yet, despite this progress, we are facing a triad of trouble holding back many nations and communities--obesity, conflict, and mental illness, including substance use disorders."

Since 2006, the number of deaths from conflict and terrorism has risen significantly, reaching 150500 in 2016 (143% increase since 2006), largely as a result of conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East.

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