By the third decade of this century, WHO predicts that depression, traffic accidents and heart disease are to become the leading disease burdens in developing countries, as opposed to respiratory disease, diarrohea and peri-natal conditions, which are leading at present.
While a great proportion of the population is alredy on anti-depressant medication in the developed world, by 2020, depression is predicted to become the leading disease burden in developing countries.
In addition, traffic-related injuries are on high and in the US, account for between 30 and 86 per cent of all trauma admissions. Given that the majority of trauma facilities are located in urban areas, these statistics suggest that accidents not only pose an enormous mortality and morbidity risk to urban residents, they also are a significant burden on urban health systems. 85% of all road accident deaths occur in developing countries and nearly half in the Asia-Pacific region. India accounts for about 10 percent of road accident fatalities worldwide.(http://www.healthinitiative.org/html/whd/2k4/index.htm
WHO also predicts that chronic or ‘lifestyle’ diseases such as heart problems and cancers will become an increasingly heavy health burden in developing countries. Risk factors for and rates of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancers and coronary heart disease are also said to increase. With increased industrialization in the developing countries, the exposure to potentially toxic emissions such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and suspended particulate matter are likely to increase. Problems are likely to be exacerbated by and lifestyle factors such as increased smoking, alcohol consumption, increased fat intake and reduced fibre intake.
We are in fact looking at a future of ill health, if not a health catastrophe. This is not a doomsday prediction, but a warning to better plan for our future and that of our children. Are we serious?
- Ipsita Basu