Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) released its inaugural State of India’s Health report in December 2015. The report titled “Body Burden 2015: State of India’s Health report” connects most environmental factors to some of the gravest public health risks faced by India today. The report offers a compilation of case studies, stories and data which can lay the foundation for larger in-depth features.
The prognosis doesn’t read well for India. The report pegs air pollution as the fifth leading cause of death in India leading to 6,20,000 premature deaths annually due to stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections and cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lungs, among others. Water contamination that causes diseases affects 37.7 million Indians annually, including 1.5 million children who die of diarrhoea alone.
Establishing the link between climate change and a rise in vector-borne diseases, including dengue and malaria, the report notes: “The potential period of spread of malaria has increased to 10-12 months (almost the whole year), which is up from four to six months.” The report also warns that deforestation is causing diseases in animals that were earlier confined to forests but now affect humans, claiming 2.7 million lives annually. Worse, the World Health Organization says our indiscriminate use of pesticides will cause 20 times more deaths due to cancer by 2030.