Risk Dialogue Series - Health Risk Factors in India

03 Mar 2015

India stands on the cusp of rapid shifts in health among high growth markets. Many rural communities continue to suffer outbreaks of infectious disease; while in the cities there are high incidences of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Particularly notable is that of diabetes; India has more diabetes sufferers than any other country.

India stands at a transition point between the health conditions of developing and developed economies. Hundreds of millions in the vast country still live in rural poverty, coping with undernourishment, poor sanitation, limited health care and outbreaks of infectious disease. However, India has also rapidly urbanised in recent years. Significant segments of the population have shifted their diet to include large amounts of processed food; and have become more sedentary in their jobs and lifestyle. The result is a considerable increase in incidents of NCDs. These twin rural and urban developments are major challenges for the public health authorities. They also highlight the potential positive impact insurance can have in supporting and financing improved health care solutions.

Key findings:

  • With 65 million diabetics India is often referred to as the ‘diabetes capital’ of the world

  • Diabetes is spreading so rapidly that India is projected to increase to 109 million diabetics by 2035

  • India's nutrition transition is shadowed by a sudden steep increase in type 2 diabetics

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This publication is part of the joint research collaboration by Swiss Re and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It describes the research undertaken by 45 colleagues from both institutions. It is an important component of what we call the Systematic Explanatory Analyses of Risk factors affecting Cardiovascular Health (SEARCH) project. The aim of our collaboration is to clarify the relationship between risk factors and health outcomes in the rapidly evolving countries of Brazil, China, India and Mexico. Their health profile is changing swiftly and significantly with economic growth. NCDs are rising rapidly, creating a major challenge for public and private providers and funders of health care.

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Andreas Obrist

Business Development Manager
Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue
Tel: +41 43 285 96 07

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To order print copies of the publication please mail to publications@swissre.com. Order no: 1506060_14_EN