Heart disease, respiratory illnesses are main killersNearly 86 percent of the total deaths studied were due to non-communicable diseases and accidents.
Nearly 32 percent of total deaths in Nepal are attributed to ischemic heart disease and chronic respiratory diseases, a new report by Nepal Health Research Council stated. Ischemic heart disease is a condition in which the heart does not get sufficient blood and oxygen because of narrowed or blocked blood vessels.
Although the study was carried out in two local units—Gosainkunda Rural Municipality of Rasuwa and Mithila Municipality of Dhanusha—with a sample size of 364 deaths that occurred in the Nepali year 2079, the report is deemed to capture the country’s overall state.
Of the 364 deaths in the two local units where the study was conducted, 16.4 percent were attributed to ischemic heart disease and 15.3 percent to chronic respiratory diseases.
Likewise, 9.3 percent of deaths were caused by stroke, a serious life-threatening medical condition that happens when the blood supply to a part of the brain is cut off. According to the report, 5.5 percent of deaths were attributed to other non-communicable diseases, 4.7 percent to road accidents, 4.4 percent to diabetes, 4.4 percent to pneumonia, 3.6 percent to other injuries, 3.3 percent to falls and 2.5 percent to cirrhosis.
In total, 85.7 of the deaths that occurred in 12 months of the Nepali year 2079 were attributed to non-communicable diseases. This includes 68.6 percent deaths from several non-communicable diseases and 17.1 percent from injuries.
Communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases were responsible for 14.3 percent of the total deaths.
The report shows that around 88 percent of deaths in Mithila Municipality were attributed to non-communicable diseases. This includes 70 percent from several non-communicable diseases and 17.9 percent from injuries. Communicable diseases were responsible for just 12.1 percent of deaths in the municipality.
However, in Gosainkunda Rural Municipality, the mortality-related disease burden differs from that in Mithila Municipality, with 62.1 percent attributed to non-communicable diseases, 13.3 percent to injuries and 24.6 percent to communicable diseases.
The proportion of deaths is higher in males at 57.9 percent and in individuals aged over 60 years, at 64.7 percent.
The study shows only 71.3 percent of deaths were registered and 71.5 percent of deaths occurred at home. The study was carried out using a verbal autopsy.
Non-communicable diseases surpassed both morbidity and mortality-related burdens in Nepal long ago.
Several studies, including the ‘Non-communicable Disease Risk Factors: STEPS Survey Nepal-2019’ jointly carried out by the World Health Organization, the Ministry of Health and Population and the Nepal Health Research Council, and others, show that the prevalence and risk of non-communicable diseases surpass those of communicable diseases.
The reports show alarming signs on several fronts including alcohol consumption, tobacco use, salt and junk food intake, vegetable and fruit intake, and the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
They attribute the rise in non-communicable diseases to changing age structure and lifestyle, such as increasing sedentary behaviour, tobacco and alcohol use, and unhealthy diets.
However, authorities concerned have been slow to recognise the magnitude of the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, according to public health experts.
“Multiple studies show that the burden of non-communicable diseases and resulting deaths has surpassed that of communicable diseases. So we must increase investment in mitigating non-communicable diseases,” said Dr Megnath Dhimal, chief researcher at the Council. “It is high time for aid agencies to invest in reducing the growing burden of non-communicable diseases in Nepal.”
Dhimal informed that a study carried out in Makawanpur district in the past showed similar results.