Guwahati: Over 26 per cent of people in the northeast are suffering from Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) like hypertension, neurological and heart problems, according to a survey conducted by an industry body.

As part of its Illness to Wellness campaign on Tuesday, the Assocham unveiled its findings on the northeastern states, based on a primary healthcare survey on the rising burden of non-communicable diseases in the country.

“The survey highlighted that Assam and the other Northeastern states have 22.33 per cent and 26.27 per cent prevalence of key NCDs respectively, which is quite higher than the national average of 11.63 per cent,” it said.

These states particularly have a higher prevalence of hypertension, digestive, neurological and heart diseases as compared to the national average prevalence rate of these diseases.

The Northeastern states, including Assam, showed a higher prevalence of kidney disorders, respiratory diseases in comparison to the national average prevalence rate of these diseases while cancer and diabetes were found to be more prevalent in the region, except Assam,” the survey found.

Delving on the reasons associated with NCDs, the report underlined that a high level of consumption of non-vegetarian items, particularly red meat, is leading to hypertension, heart and other neurological diseases among people in the region.

“It stated that 94 per cent of respondents from the Northeastern states consume non-vegetarian food as compared to the national average of 66 per cent. Similarly, consumption of red meat in the region was found to be higher than the national average,” it added.

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The report highlighted that consumption of fruits and vegetables in the region is marginally lower than the national level, besides a lower level of physical activity is done at the workplace and home.

“The region has a slightly higher proportion of the overweight population in comparison to the national average,” the Assocham report said.

The survey pointed out that 40 per cent of people in the region sought medical advice for the treatment of NCDs only at a very critical stage of the illness compared to the national average of 17 per cent.

“As a result, people of the region have been living with higher morbidity. This delay in seeking treatment can be attributed to the limited capacity of people to pay for private medical expenses,” it said.

The survey observed that 64 per cent of people in the region have a monthly income of less than 10,000, it added.

The study found that 87 per cent of people from the region incur out-of-pocket expenditure for NCD treatment in comparison to the national average of 81 per cent.

“This indicates lower penetration of the government medical facilities in the region as compared to the national average and higher cost or expenditure on treatment of NCDs in the region than the national average,” it added.

Authorised by Assocham, the report was produced by Delhi-based think tank ‘Thought Arbitrage Research Institute’.

The survey report, titled ‘Non-Communicable Diseases in India’, covered 2,33,672 people and 673 public health offices in 21 states to analyse the rising cases of NCDs in the country and the social profile of the affected households.

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