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Times of India
23 March 2010
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

Pneumonia and tuberculosis – diseases that were the leading causes of death in the rural areas of Maharashtra till the start of the century – have made way for medical conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiac arrest and stroke. These three conditions have accounted for a high percentage of deaths in rural Maharashtra in a survey conducted from 2001 to 2008.

This has been revealed in the report, ‘Health Status – Maharashtra 2009’,recently released by the State Health System Resource Centre (SHSRC) of the state government’s public health department.Interestingly,suicide too features among the top ten causes of death during the same period.

Speaking to TOI on Monday, SHSRC executive director Prakash Doke said that pneumonia and TB were among the leading causes of death in the rural areas between 1991 and 2000. However, since 2001, there have been very few deaths due to these two diseases and they have even stopped figuring among the top ten causes of death in the rural areas after 2005, he added.

Better living conditions and the effective implementation of the national TB control programme have apparently helped in containing the two diseases. The survey was implemented by the bureau of Health Intelligence and Vital Statistics (HIVS) of the state government. Paramedical personnel monitor one village per primary health centre and the HIVS bureau compiles the data annually. A total 1,816 villages were randomly selected for the survey.

Since 2001, deaths due to COPD (a progressive lung disease) accounted for 19–25 per cent of the deaths annually in the villages surveyed. Cardiac arrest accounted for 10–16 per cent deaths, stroke 6–8 per cent deaths and suicide 2–3 per cent deaths.

Doke said the other death–causing medical conditions included premature and low birth weight, ischaemic heart disease, cirrhosis and accidents. Interestingly, deaths due to cancer were hardly visible since 2002 but deaths due to anaemia were becoming common since 2005.

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