How Many People Are Affected by Critical Illness in India?

One might hate to talk about it but the truth is that critical illnesses can strike anyone, regardless of age, gender or status, and without any warning. They have become so rampant and common that we hear about them daily. For example, the cancer burden in India has more than doubled over the last 26 years. On an average, more than 1,300 Indians succumb to the deadly disease every day. Smoking, alcohol, lifestyle and poor dietary habits are some of the major causes. To guard ourselves against it we may have opted for a healthier lifestyle, but still some of the products that we use in our daily lives, including deodorants, air fresheners and shampoos may contain cancer-causing compounds. And we have no idea about it.

What is Critical Illness?

Critical illness is a health condition, which has a severe impact on your health and lifestyle. Some examples are illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, heart diseases, diabetes etc. They are uninvited guests with evil intentions that have a huge toll on both health and wealth, affecting your lifestyle and impairing your earning ability. With a stressful lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits, there is a rise in the number of people being affected by such critical illnesses.

India And Critical Illness

In the recent past a lot has changed in India with the consistent advancement in the medical field. The healthcare industry is expected to increase to Rs 8.6 trillion (US$ 132.84 billion) by FY22 from Rs 4 trillion (US$ 61.79 billion) in FY17 at a CAGR of 16-17 per cent(1). However, the country is still challenged by fatal diseases that don't seem to clear the pathways. While communicable diseases continue to pose a significant challenge, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are fast becoming a major threat to public health and wellbeing of Indians. That said, non-communicable diseases dominate the list of the top causes of death in India. Overall, non-communicable diseases, including heart disorders, cancer and diabetes, caused 61 percent of all deaths in the country in 2016.(2)

According to an ICMR India State-Level Disease Burden Study report the estimated proportion of all deaths due to critical illnesses related to NCDs increased from 37.09 per cent in 1990 to 61.8 per cent in 2016 (3). About 58,17,000 people died due to critical illnesses like cancer, diabetes and heart problems in that year. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including coronary heart disease, stroke, and hypertension) accounted for 45 per cent of all deaths due to NCDs. Chronic respiratory disease contributed 22 per cent, cancer 12 per cent and diabetes 3 per cent.(4)

Here Are Some Significant Critical Ailments

Cardiovascular Disease:

The Global Burden of Disease study estimate of age-standardized CVD death rate of 272 per 100 000 population in India is higher than the global average of 235 per 100 000 population.(5) Among them Ischemic heart disease and stroke are predominant and responsible for around 80 per cent of total deaths. CVDs are actually disorders of the heart and blood vessels, and include coronary heart disease (heart attacks), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), peripheral artery disease, congenital heart disease and heart failure.

Lung Disease

: Lung diseases are another major cause of deaths in India. Over 11 lakh people die every year due to lung related ailments, which include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, asbestosis, tuberculosis, and other lung conditions. According to a WHO report, India tops the global chart in deaths due to critical illnesses that are related to lung disease with 11 percent of the total deaths in the country.


India has over 2.2 million cases of Cancer with over 1 lakh new cases being registered every year. This dreaded disease was responsible for nearly 7 lakh deaths in 2018. (6) The number of cancer deaths in India increased by 112 per cent between 1990 and 2016. Also, incidence of cancer cases increased by 48.7 per cent during this duration.(7)

Liver Disease

: According to a WHO report, liver disease is the tenth most common cause of death in India, with around 10 lakh patients being diagnosed with liver cirrhosis every year. In 2017, about 259,749 people died due to liver disease, accounting for 2.95% of total deaths.(8)

Kidney Disease:

Like other critical illnesses, the number of Indians suffering from chronic kidney ailments has also increased significantly in the last decade. In the past 15 years, the number has doubled. It’s estimated that around 2 lakh people die due to kidney disease every year in India.(9)

India is fast witnessing a rise in the number of deaths due to critical illnesses. Also, the probability of us getting affected by a life threatening disease is getting higher day by day. Before any unfortunate event strikes, it is essential to have a critical illness insurance plan in our portfolio.

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