Disease burden from neurological disorders

The recent findings on neurological disorders highlight that the contribution of noncommunicable neurological disorders and neurological injuries to the total disease burden has more than doubled between 1990 and 2019.…..
By Abhigyan/Abhinav


The burdens of many neurological disorders vary substantially across the states of India. The state-specific findings described in this scientific paper highlight the extent of the effort needed in each state to reduce the burden of neurological disorders through state-specific health system responses aimed at increasing awareness, early identification, cost-effective treatment, and rehabilitation.

The trends over about three decades reported in this research paper utilized all available data sources from India, which enabled more robust estimates of neurological disorder burden across India than those available so far.

Prof Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog said, “ On the release of the findings, “This scientific paper presents a comprehensive perspective of the burden of neurological disorders over the last thirty years, and systematically highlights the variations between the states. Several government policies and initiatives are in place to address the burden of neurological disorders across India, however more focused efforts are required for the planning of specific neurology services in each state. There is a need to address the shortage of trained neurology workforce, and strengthen early detection and cost-effective management of neurological disorders in the country to deal with their growing burden.”

Prof Balram Bhargava, Secretary, Government of India, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, and Director General, ICMR said, “This research paper provides the first consolidated estimates on the burden of most neurological disorders for every state of India from 1990 to 2019. Neurological disorders contribute 10% of the total disease burden in India. There is a growing burden of non-communicable neurological disorders in the country, which is mainly attributable to ageing of the population. The findings presented in this research paper are useful for health-care planning at the state level to reduce the neurological disorders burden.”

Prof Gagandeep Singh, Professor, Dayanand Medical College, said, “The analysis in this paper highlights key issues related to trends of neurological disorders in the states of India. Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder in India. While the prevalence of epilepsy has increased over the past three decades, it is gratifying to note that India has made some gains in reducing premature deaths and morbidity of people with epilepsy over this period by reducing treatment gaps. There is however a need to scale up treatment coverage of epilepsy in governmental schemes such as the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram and Ayushman Bharat. Policies and practices focusing on safe births, preventing head injury and stroke would help in averting a substantial proportion of epilepsies.”

Prof Lalit Dandona, Director of the India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative, who is Honorary Distinguished Scientist at ICMR, Distinguished Professor at PHFI, said, “This study based on collaboration with leading neurology experts in India provides policy-relevant insights into the trends of neurological disorders across the states. While the burden of infectious neurological disorders has fallen in India, this burden is higher in less developed states. On the other hand, the burden of neurological disorders related to injury is higher in more developed states. Among non-communicable neurological disorders, stroke is the third leading cause of death in India, and dementias are the fastest growing neurological disorder. These and other findings in the paper have important implications for planning to reduce the growing burden of neurological disorders in India.”

Prof N Girish Rao, Professor, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, said, “Headache is the commonest neurological disorder affecting 1 in 3 Indians, and is often neglected in terms of public health priority. It is the second leading contributor to the disease burden from neurological disorders in India. Migraine affects females more than males, greatly affecting adults in the working age population. Headaches, especially migraine, need to be recognised as a public health problem and included under the national NCD programme. The time is right for ushering structured headache services in India and develops standards of quality of care, else the missed opportunity is huge.”

Prof K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, said, “The rise of non-communicable disease related risk factors, as leading contributors to neurological disorders and resultant disability in India, is not a surprise. It reflects the demographic, socio-economic and nutrition transitions that have steered the shift in our epidemiological profile over the past 30 years. What is helpful is the recognition that much of this burden of disease and disability is related to modifiable risk factors which can be reduced at the population level and corrected at the individual level. We need policy, health system and personal level actions to achieve healthy ageing across a long life course.”

Prof Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, said “These results show us the importance of looking at the sub national level and at different age groups to truly understand disease burden within a country. While non-communicable diseases were the largest contributor to health loss from neurological disorders for most age groups, communicable diseases were the largest contributor for children under 5 years of age. The pattern also varies considerably between the states. The data make a strong argument for the importance of locally-tailored health policies to address gaps and strengthen health system neurology services.”

The analytical methods of this study have been refined over a quarter century of scientific work, which has been reported in more than 16,000 peer-reviewed publications, making it the most widely used approach globally for disease burden estimation. These methods enable standardized comparisons of health loss caused by different diseases and risk factors, between different geographies, sexes, and age groups, and over time in a unified framework.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *