The burden of chronic respiratory diseases and their heterogeneity across the states of India: the Global Burden of Disease Study 1990-2016

Lancet Glob Health. 2018 Dec;6(12):e1363-e1374. doi: 10.1016/S2214-109X(18)30409-1. Epub 2018 Sep 12.


Background: India has 18% of the global population and an increasing burden of chronic respiratory diseases. However, a systematic understanding of the distribution of chronic respiratory diseases and their trends over time is not readily available for all of the states of India. Our aim was to report the trends in the burden of chronic respiratory diseases and the heterogeneity in their distribution in all states of India between 1990 and 2016.

Methods: Using all accessible data from multiple sources, we estimated the prevalence of major chronic respiratory diseases and the deaths and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) caused by them for every state of India from 1990 to 2016 as part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2016. We assessed heterogeneity in the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma across the states of India. The states were categorised into four groups based on their epidemiological transition level (ETL). ETL was defined as the ratio of DALYs from communicable diseases to those from non-communicable diseases and injuries combined, with a low ratio denoting high ETL and vice versa. We also assessed the contribution of risk factors to DALYs due to COPD. We compared the burden of chronic respiratory diseases in India against the global average in GBD 2016. We calculated 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs) for the point estimates.

Findings: The contribution of chronic respiratory diseases to the total DALYs in India increased from 4·5% (95% UI 4·0-4·9) in 1990 to 6·4% (5·8-7·0) in 2016. Of the total global DALYs due to chronic respiratory diseases in 2016, 32·0% occurred in India. COPD and asthma were responsible for 75·6% and 20·0% of the chronic respiratory disease DALYs, respectively, in India in 2016. The number of cases of COPD in India increased from 28·1 million (27·0-29·2) in 1990 to 55·3 million (53·1-57·6) in 2016, an increase in prevalence from 3·3% (3·1-3·4) to 4·2% (4·0-4·4). The age-standardised COPD prevalence and DALY rates in 2016 were highest in the less developed low ETL state group. There were 37·9 million (35·7-40·2) cases of asthma in India in 2016, with similar prevalence in the four ETL state groups, but the highest DALY rate was in the low ETL state group. The highest DALY rates for both COPD and asthma in 2016 were in the low ETL states of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The DALYs per case of COPD and asthma were 1·7 and 2·4 times higher in India than the global average in 2016, respectively; most states had higher rates compared with other locations worldwide at similar levels of Socio-demographic Index. Of the DALYs due to COPD in India in 2016, 53·7% (43·1-65·0) were attributable to air pollution, 25·4% (19·5-31·7) to tobacco use, and 16·5% (14·1-19·2) to occupational risks, making these the leading risk factors for COPD.

Interpretation: India has a disproportionately high burden of chronic respiratory diseases. The increasing contribution of these diseases to the overall disease burden across India and the high rate of health loss from them, especially in the less developed low ETL states, highlights the need for focused policy interventions to address this significant cause of disease burden in India.

Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Indian Council of Medical Research, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / mortality
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disabled Persons
  • Female
  • Global Burden of Disease*
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / mortality
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Respiration Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Respiration Disorders / mortality
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult