India witnessing rising burden of non-communicable diseases, multiple long-term conditions: Experts

The centre aims to develop, implement and evaluate care for people suffering from long-term conditions through innovative health systems by leveraging technology.
Image used for representational purpose. (Express Illustration)
Image used for representational purpose. (Express Illustration)

NEW DELHI: With increased longevity and rising burden of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs), multi-morbidity or multiple long-term conditions is emerging as a high-priority public health concern globally, as well as in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) like India, said Dr V K Paul, Niti Aayog member.

India is witnessing a rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and many a time, the NCDs co-occur in the same patient, he said on Friday at the launch of the NIHR Global Health Research Centre to be set up by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and University of Leicester.

“Given this unique challenge of managing different conditions in the same patient, innovative research is needed to improve multiple long-term conditions (MLTs) of heart, lung diseases, hypertension, diabetes and mental health disorders,'' he said.

PHFI and the University of Leicester have been awarded a prestigious grant by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, UK, to help improve health outcomes and reorient health systems to effectively address multiple long-term conditions (MLTCs) or multi-morbidity in India and Nepal.

The centre aims to develop, implement and evaluate care for people suffering from long-term conditions like heart and lung diseases, diabetes, hypertension and mental disorders through innovative health systems by leveraging technology.

The PHFI and the University of Leicester will collaborate with the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), Jodhpur, Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth (HRIDAY), Delhi, and Kathmandu Medical College (KMC), Kathmandu.

Prof. Sanjay Zodpey, President of PHFI, said he has worked to establish robust evidence for research for India in critical areas of public health.

“We aim to build capacity and evidence for the need for comprehensive management of multiple conditions, which can enable our health systems to be agile to meet the needs of our population at various levels,” he said.

Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, Founder (Past) President and Distinguished Professor of Public Health PHFI, said the co-existence of multiple chronic health ailments is becoming increasingly common as life expectancy increases. This is a problem not only for older age groups but also evident in younger age groups, where changes in living habits and environmental conditions increase susceptibility to multiple diseases.

Health systems which employ disease-specific programmes are ill-equipped to deal with co-existent conditions which require chronic, continuous care. Such care is best provided through integrated delivery teams at the primary healthcare level. Capacity for providing such care through efficient, equitable and empathetic health systems is an urgent requirement, Dr Reddy said.

This project will aim to build needs-based capacity for addressing the challenges of multi-morbidity, he added.

In the first stage, researchers will review existing evidence, generate new data as required and talk to people living with these conditions to identify the best care approach for people with multi-morbidity in both countries.

In addition, using the concepts of co-design and community engagement, they will conduct studies to assess what type of integrated, technology-enabled, patient-centred, high-impact, equitable health system intervention designs could most benefit individuals with two or more long-term conditions, which are increasingly impacting population health in both countries.

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