Dr Ajay Khera, the in-charge of Child Health, Union Ministry of Health, Vibha Varshney, Senior Associate Editor, Down to Earth magazine and Dr Rajan Sankar, Director, Nutrition Initiative of Tata Trusts discuss the latest reports on disease burden in India and its implications for the citizens and child health with Biraj Swain, Newslaundry Consulting Editor and ICFJ Fellow.

They discuss the main findings of India: Health of the nation’s states from the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Public Health Foundation of India and the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, which says the health story of India isn’t one single story. The state-level narratives are very different, while Kerala, Goa and Tamil Nadu have non-communicable diseases as the main killers, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Assam are still grappling with infectious and communicable diseases. Diarrhoea and malnutrition continue to be major killers. And Bihar has the double burden of diarrhoea and diabetes.

The Centre for Science and Environment’s Body Burden: Lifestyle Diseases report takes a detailed look at the impact of pollutants and toxins on health outcomes. Coming in the same fortnight that Unicef stated Indian children are running the risk of shrunken brain development, this report lists all the other diseases emerging and the health budget, socio-economic policy implications of the same.

They also discuss the government’s reception of the reports, the under-funding of health sector, at 1.18 per cent of GDP and the resultant enormous out of pocket expenses and the medical ethics challenges. They conclude with a long hard look at the state of health journalism and how and why reportage needs to be better.

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