Premature Deaths – A Curious Case in India

Neonatology service in a hospital in Haute-Savoie, France. A premature baby is monitored until it reaches full-term. An auxiliary nurse looks after him. (Photo by: BSIP/UIG via Getty Images)

In News

  • An analysis report published in The Lancet Global Health found that the 9.7 million deaths that occurred in India in 2017 have reasons that are common in one part of the country and uncommon elsewhere.
  • The study was funded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The authors of the study are from the Indian Council of Medical Research and from the global health research wings of the University of Toronto and the University of California, San Francisco.


  • As per the analysis, 44% of India’s cancer burden is due to Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Haryana, Gujarat and Karnataka.
  • The reasons for premature deaths measured as YLLs or Years of Life Lost too vary across states. 
  • YLL is calculated from the number of deaths multiplied by a standard life expectancy at the age of death.
  • Northeastern states, Bihar, Karnataka and Maharashtra have a high level and alcohol-related YLL. They account for 18% of YLL.
  • Suicide YLL rate is higher in southern states that account for 15% of national YLL.
  • Road traffic injuries are high in the northern states accounting for 33% of the national total.
  • Drowning is highest in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Assam. They account for 11% of national totals.
  • In 2017, there were 486 million DALYs (Disability-adjusted life years, a measure of the number of years lost due to ill health or disability).
  • The ration of DALYs compared to 9.6 million deaths is 50 to 1.
  • As per the analysis, three-quarters of the deaths and DALYs occurred in rural areas with males accounting for 54.3% of all DALYs.
  • Per 1,00,000 population, the DALYs rate was 36,300. This is high in rural areas and among males.


The study will help the policymakers and state governments to bring appropriate interventions based on the region-wise variations in the reasons for premature deaths.

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