This article was published in ‘The Wire.In’. Here is the link.
The project’s current attention on the country is ambitious because it will be studying diseases and deaths in each Indian state separately. These estimates are scheduled to be published next year and then updated annually. Considering the many disparities between states, this is a significant decision because officials will soon possess impartially determined numbers to guide policy and public health schemes. For example, Assam’s health minister will get the hitherto unavailable list of the top disabilities affecting her people; Kerala’s authorities will know both the life expectancy and the ‘healthy life expectancy’ (a measure of years of life spent in ‘full health’) of their people; and Punjab’s drug issue will be quantified better, helping the government tackle it more effectively. In fact, most health policy in the past has been biased toward potentially fatal diseases, and it was the initial country-level GBD studies that turned the world’s attention to diseases which, despite not killing people, still caused enormous suffering (e.g., mental illness and other chronic disorders). Perhaps we can, and should, expect similar large-scale policy metamorphosis in India once the state-level GBD findings are announced.