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J&K’s health sector faces surge in these diseases, public health challenges

Jahangeer Ganaie

 

Srinagar, Nov 8: The health sector in Jammu and Kashmir is facing threats from new communicable diseases as well as the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases, according to officials. The rising drug abuse among the young population is also leading to multiple health issues.

The Vision Document 2047 from the Health Department, accessed by the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), highlights the threat of new communicable diseases/variants such as EBOLA, Bird flu, Swine Flu, Zika, and Coronavirus, which are emerging at an unprecedented rate. It also mentions the increased prevalence of non-communicable diseases like anaemia, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.

Officials said 25 percent of people have stomach cancer followed by colorectal (16%) and lung cancer (13.2%) which are more common among males while colorectal cancer (16.8%), breast cancer (16%), and stomach cancer (10%) were mostly reported cancers among women

Doctors attribute this increase to lifestyle changes and the adoption of a Western/urban lifestyle. To tackle these issues, they emphasise the need for individual changes such as adopting a healthy lifestyle, maintaining good food habits, engaging in physical exercise, and quitting smoking. At a collective level, measures include preventing environmental pollution and ensuring access to clean water.

According to reports from the Union Ministry of Health, Jammu and Kashmir has reported 51,000 cases of cancer in the past four years. Additionally, anaemia remains a major health problem in the region, especially among women and children. Doctors attribute this to nutritional deficiencies and a lack of awareness about menstrual health.

Doctors who spoke to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) said the majority of women do not take a nutrient-rich diet. They said anaemia is a condition that is marked by low levels of haemoglobin in the blood.

“Iron deficiency is estimated to be responsible for about half of all anaemia globally. Still, anaemia can also be caused by malaria, hookworms, other nutritional deficiencies, chronic infections and genetic conditions,” they said.

The Women and Men in India 2022 report by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) reveals that 66 percent of women in Jammu and Kashmir suffer from anemia, with 25 percent having mild anaemia, 38 percent moderate anaemia, and 3 percent severe anaemia.

Furthermore, NHFS-5 data shows that only 36 percent of women and 31 percent of men in Jammu and Kashmir have normal blood pressure.

As per the data, age has a correlation with hypertension and with growing age, you have more chances of having hypertension as just 3 percent people of 15-19 have hypertension which increases to over 4 percent in the 20-24 age group, around 7 percent in 25-29 age group, 8.5 percent in 30-34 age group, 14 percent in 35-39 age group, 20 percent in 40-45 age group and 24 percent in 45-49 age group.

There are 8.7 percent of women and 8 percent of men having aged above 15 whose blood sugar level is high that is above 140 mg/dl, it reveals.

Doctors also said that persons who inject drugs (PWIDs) are at risk of having unwanted health problems that affect their body as well as their overall health. They said that Intravenous (IV) drug use not only causes bruising, scarring, and venous injury, but its users are also at risk of infectious diseases like human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB), and hepatitis C virus (HCV).

“IV drug users may develop scarring in places where they inject the drugs into their skin. ‘Track marks’ develop when a person repeatedly injects into the same site. As a result, the overlaying skin can become discoloured and the most common sites are dormant arm, knee joint, the groin, and the veins that are on top of their feet,” they said, adding that the intravenous drug use can lead to dependency, both physical and psychological, developing more quickly than with other methods of using drugs.

Around 13.5 lakh people in Jammu and Kashmir consume drugs, with over 5 lakh addicts using opioids, a parliament panel report has revealed.

The Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment report titled ‘Drug abuse among young persons: Problems and solutions’, a copy of which lies with KNO, reveals that around 1,68,700 children of 10-17 year age group are drug users in Jammu & Kashmir and among them, around 95,000 are Opioid users.

As per the report, among 1,68700 minor drug abusers, 8,000 are using cannabis, 95,000 opioids, 19,000 sedatives, 100 cocaine, 400 Amphetamine Stimulants, 46,000 inhalants and 200 Hallucinogens.

The report further states that 11,80,000 adults of the 18-75 age group are drug abusers and among them, 3,54,000 are using alcohol, 1,36000 cannabis, 4,47,000 Opioids, 1,51,000 sedatives, 89,000 inhalants and 1000 each of Cocaine, stimulant and Hallucinogens.

—(KNO)

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