Curbing the Rising Threat of NCDs in India

By: Kanchana TK, Director General, OPPI

OPPI will host the 5th Healthcare Access Summit this week to bring together stakeholders to ACT on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to curb the rising threat through awareness, capacity building, and treatment. Our fast-paced lives, in a modern and mechanized world, are characterized by richer diets and more sedentary behaviors. Many countries in the developing world are in a phase of economic transition, where obesity is taking over from under-nutrition. Sadly, India is also becoming afflicted with an increasing burden of chronic, lifestyle-related NCDs. My recent article in the Financial Express describes the challenge India faces in tackling the burden of rising rates of NCDs. 

India is referred to as the ‘diabetes capital of the world’ with almost 65 million Indians currently suffering from the disease and this number expected to reach 100 million by 2030. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the umbrella organization of 230 diabetes associations in 170 countries, one third of diabetic adults remain undiagnosed. Furthermore, 60% of all diabetes patients are in the ‘uncontrolled’ category and face the added threat of acquiring other serious health conditions. However, diabetes is not the only NCD that extracts a high toll; cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer pose a huge threat as well.  

The Indian government has responded with the launch of the National Programme for the Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS), as a nation-wide initiative. The primary objective of this program is to target the biggest contributors to NCDs: unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use, and air pollution. At the same time, the government is also gearing up for better screening, prevention, and treatment of NCDs. In alignment with the WHO’s ‘global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020’, India is the first country to develop national targets and indicators to gauge the success of its initiatives. It is presently finalizing a multi-sector action plan, to involve other sectors beyond healthcare, in recognizing and reducing the burden of NCDs and related risk factors.

While there have been a number of good steps taken by the government and stakeholders, more work needs to be done, including dedicating more resources to healthcare. It's clear that we will all need to work together to identify sustainable, workable solutions to tackling NCDs in India. Join us as we #ACTonNCDS


Kanchana T.K., in about two decades of professional experience, has worked across the spectrum of businesses related to healthcare consulting and delivery, healthcare access and pharmaceuticals. She has worked across functions including public affairs, policy, and business verticals in India, Africa and Middle East.