New data released by the office of the Census Commissioner on Monday shows a peculiar trend. More and more deaths in India are happening without diagnosis of the reason of death. It means that patients are not diagnosed properly when they are ill, eventually leading to their death. The number has doubled in less than a decade, pointing towards the need for more and better laboratories.
In 2010-13, “symptoms, signs and ill-defined conditions” accounted for 12.35% of all deaths. It was 7.6% in 2004-06. This is the second highest category among top 10 causes of deaths, preceded only by cardiovascular diseases which are responsible for 23.3% deaths. According to International Classification of Diseases, a standard accepted world-over, this category points to equal suspicion to two or more diseases. It also refers to cases where the final diagnosis could not be made.
The age group that is worst affected is older people. As many as 30% of deaths for those aged above 70 years go undiagnosed. This points to the larger issue that old people face in the country regarding care at home as well as geriatric facilities in public healthcare.
“We have more people registering for deaths, including rural India. There are many deaths which occur outside health facilities and hence, we do not know the reason. As we do not follow proper procedure of diagnosis after a death, reasons go unrecorded,” said a junior doctor of community medicine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, who did not wish to be named. He added that knowing these reasons would help in understanding the diseases better.
Preference of Indian families to give healthcare to men over women is clearly seen through this category. While 10% of male deaths do not have defined reasons, in women this shoots up to 15.4%. However, a comparison from 2004-06 shows that such cases have increased substantially for both men and women. In 2004-06, 5.9% males and 9.7% females fell in this category.