Rayagada is no country for old men. Literally too. Barely about eight per cent of people in the age group of 60 and above survive in the tribal dominated district. That’s not all. Men die faster than their opposite sex once they are in the elderly bracket.
Such is pattern that life span of people, after they reach the age of 50, starts to taper off quickly, a latest study by the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) has suggested. In the coastal pockets, the average population in the above-60 age group is around 14 per cent.The survey was carried out on 5,800 people in 21 villages covered by Jemadeipentha Community Health Centre. Jemadeipentha is 20-odd kms from the district headquarters.
RMRC, an arm of ICMR also conducted a verbal autopsy of deaths that have occurred in last one year and found that close to 40 per cent of deaths were in the above 60 years age group followed by 34 per cent in the age group of 41-60. The survey is part of the health seeking behaviour study in the tribal districts of the State.
While constructing the population pyramid, the study found that the percentage of elderly men in the survey area is less than their women counterpart.
“The population pyramid was typical in the study area. It was very concave in shape compared to the coastal population suggesting that once people go beyond 40 years, they do not survive for long,” said sources in the ICMR arm.
One of the commonest reasons of death was cardiovascular diseases which accounted for over 20 per cent of deaths while pulmonary TB caused 11.31 per cent of deaths. Liver diseases and malaria caused nine per cent of deaths each. The RMRC plans to conduct a detailed study into the exact causes of death in the population.
In fact, the nutritional and nourishment status of the population largely indicates why the elderly are not living long. About 43 per cent of adults had a low body mass index with 13.5 per cent in severe grade under-weight (less than 16 BMI) while 18.5 per cent were in the less than 18 BMI category.
Since about 50 per cent of children (below five years) faced acute mal-nutrition, it affected their growth and subsequent development in the adolescent and adult stages. The survey also found that close to 25 per cent of adults had problems of hypertension.This trend is not representative of the rising life expectancy across the globe as average life span now stands at 68, pushing 70 years. The study has been conducted over a period of one and a half years.