New Delhi: Over six million people died of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in India in 2016, with Ischemic heart disease being the leading cause of death, according to the findings of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2016 study that was published in medical journal Lancet on Friday.

The study said seven of the top 10 causes of death among all age-groups in India are non-communicable diseases or injuries. While self-harm is the largest cause of death in the 10-24 age group, deaths due to diabetes and chronic kidney disease have also increased over the past decade.

India stands at a poor 127th rank among 188 countries in terms of achieving the UN’s health related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with low scores in air pollution, sanitation, hepatitis B and child waste, according to the study.

Death of children under 5 years continues to be a major concern for India as the largest number of deaths at 0.9 million in 2016 were registered in the country.

Nigeria comes a close second with 0.7 million deaths, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo with 0.3 million deaths.

“The contribution of NCDs to death and disability in India continues to grow at an alarming rate—a ticking time bomb that is increasingly affecting not just our health but our economy as well," Dr. Vivekanand Jha, executive director, The George Institute for Global Health, said.

“The report points out the value of knowing these cause-specific mortality data in framing action to meet SDGs, and highlights the continued neglect by the SDG agenda to some important causes of health burden, of whom chronic kidney disease is particularly relevant to India, having risen to 9th place in the rank of causes of death. There is an urgent need to pay attention to health care and monitoring needs of these conditions," he said.

The GBD 2016 data also show dietary habits, tobacco use, blood sugar, obesity and low physical activities are major metabolic and behavioural risk factors which lead to NCDs in India.

“These need to be identified early and programme and policy level interventions need to be put in place immediately in order to reduce the burden of NCDs in future. The key to this will be awareness and education starting at an early stage in life among students." Jha added.

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