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India carrying out Million Death Study to track causes of premature deaths

New Delhi: Scarcity of doctors and health services in India leads to loss of many lives. Healthcare in India, whether it is in the country's capital or in the boondocks, is a nightmare. There is

India TV News Desk [ Updated: May 24, 2014 14:30 IST ]
india carrying out million death study to track causes of
india carrying out million death study to track causes of premature deaths

New Delhi: Scarcity of doctors and health services in India leads to loss of many lives. Healthcare in India, whether it is in the country's capital or in the boondocks, is a nightmare.


There is only one doctor per 1,700 citizens in India; the World Health Organisation (WHO) stipulates a minimum ratio of 1:1,000.  

And if we go by the officials responsible for registering births and deaths, nearly 70 percent of deaths in India, five million in all each year, take place in the absence of medical supervision.

To fill this gap, a new survey, the Million Death Study, in collaboration with the Registrar General of India, will monitor nearly 14 million people in 2.4 million nationally representative households between 2001-2014.  

Any deaths that occur in these households during this period will be assigned a probable cause, as determined by a method called verbal autopsy.

By assigning causes to these deaths, based on the accounts of witnesses, the study hopes to identify the major causes of premature death in India.

While full results are not expected for four to five years, some preliminary findings have been released, and those have stirred controversy.  

The survey's estimate of total malaria deaths in India is more than 10 times the World Health Organization's. Its figure for deaths related to H.I.V. infections is significantly lower than what the United Nations predicted, and the Indian government, which has spent heavily to control the spread of the disease, may take that into account as it settles on future medical priorities.

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