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epidemic threat

Almost 3.5 lakh Indians died of diabetes in 2015

Diabetes may soon be a bigger problem than TB, HIV and malaria together, say endocrinologists.

With a genetic predisposition brought to the fore by changing lifestyles, deaths due to diabetes increased 50% in India between 2005 and 2015, and is now the seventh most common cause of death in the country, up from the 11th rank in 2005, according to data published by the Global Burden of Disease.

Ischemic heart disease continues to be the highest cause of death, followed by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cerebrovascular disease, lower respiratory infection, diarrhoeal diseases and tuberculosis.

In 2015, 346,000 people died of diabetes, which caused 3.3% of all deaths that year, with an annual increase of 2.7% from 1990, according to the Global Burden of Disease study.

Nearly 26 people die of diabetes per 100,000 population; diabetes is also one of the top causes of disability and accounts for 2.4% of the disability adjusted life years lost (sum of years lost due to disability or premature death due to the disease).

There are 69.1 million people with diabetes in India, the second highest number in the world after China, which has 109 million people with diabetes. Of these, 36 million cases remain undiagnosed, according to this 2015 Diabetes Atlas released by the International Diabetes Federation. Nearly nine percent in the age group of 20-79 have diabetes.

The figures are alarming since diabetes is a chronic disease that not just affects the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin but affects the entire body. Complications caused due to diabetes include heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, vision loss and neuropathy or nerve damage leading to leg amputation.

Unlike other countries, where a majority of people with diabetes are over 60 years old, the prevalence in India is among the 40-59 years age group, affecting productivity of the population.

“Diabetes strikes Indians a decade earlier than the world,” Anoop Misra, chairman, Fortis Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, New Delhi, told IndiaSpend. “This causes reduced productivity, increased absenteeism in working population and gives more time for complications to arise.”

Blame genes and changing lifestyles

Indians are especially predisposed to diabetes due to social and genetic reasons. Peculiar genetic composition of Indians known as "Asian Indian Phenotype" makes them appear thin but with fat depositions around their internal organs.

It makes them prone to greater abdominal fat, insulin resistance, higher levels of bad fat and increased chances of suffering from diabetes and coronary artery disease.

Lifestyle changes with reduced physical activity and carbohydrate-rich diets, along with environmental factors, are increasing India’s diabetes burden, IndiaSpend reported in June 2015.

Cost of diabetes

It is estimated that diabetes patients in urban areas spend Rs 10,000 and patients in rural areas spend Rs 6,260 every year on treatment, according to a 2013 study published by The Association of Physicians of India.

Since most of the healthcare cost is borne out of pocket in India, those in lower economic groups have to bear the greatest burden. Urban poor spend as much as 34% while rural poor spend 27% of their income on diabetes treatment, the study found.

India is predicted to have 123 million diabetes cases aged between 20 and 79 by 2040, according to estimates by the International Diabetes Federation. “We need a national campaign on the level of pulse polio to tackle diabetes, it is soon going to be a problem bigger than TB, HIV and malaria together,” Misra said.

Even though diabetes features in the National Health Mission’s National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke for district-level intervention to prevent non-communicable diseases, it needs to do more to screen, create awareness and monitor and treat the disease to stem the tide.

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45% consumers purchase financial products online according to our survey. Here’s why

How one of the last bastions of offline transactions is rapidly moving online.

With flight bookings, shopping and buying movie tickets all moving online, it was only a matter of time before purchasing financial products followed suit. In fact, with greater safety, better user interfaces, simpler processes and of course, busier lives, many Indians are opting to buy financial products like insurance and bank deposits online and on-the-go rather than at a bank branch.

We conducted a survey among 150 consumers in 4 metro cities (Mumbai, New Delhi, Bangalore and Ahmedabad) and 2 tier-II cities (Indore and Bhopal) to understand the financial products Indians are buying online and their needs.

The market for financial products still has huge potential for growth with 29% respondents reporting that they owned no financial instruments. Insurance is without a doubt the most widely owned financial instrument for Indians. Nearly half the sample—45% of the respondents—reported investing in insurance. Apart from that, around 27% invested in bank deposits like Fixed and Recurring Deposits and only 13% opted for mutual funds, 13% bought stocks, and just 10% took home loans. While many people still consume financial products only at their bank branches, a large number have started seeking financial information and buying financial instruments online.

The shifting tide

We found that 45% of the survey respondents bought financial products online, indicating that a large chunk of Indians is trusting the internet to manage something as sensitive as their financial investments. It is clear that Indians value the distinct advantages of transacting online. Convenience is an integral part of the experience—60% of those who bought financial products online felt that convenience played an important role in choosing to purchase online. Multiple aspects of convenience resonate with buyers—over 40% felt that the availability of 24/7 services and the ease of comparing different products from drove them to buy online.

However, findings also reveal some concerns that even tech-savvy Indians have with the online medium.

Security is king

Understandably, security is a key factor for buyers of financial products. Even among the 45% who purchased financial products online, almost half felt that the lack of security prevented them from buying more financial products online. Tellingly, the most commonly bought financial product online is general insurance. It has to be bought (in the case of travel) or renewed (in the case of car insurance) regularly and quickly, which is easier done online. It also doesn’t require the submission of too many personal documents—another­ factor reported by many as a barrier to online purchase of financial products.

To overcome these security concerns, many companies are taking concrete steps to improve the online security of their portals. They are setting up SSL security systems that encrypt and protect the user’s data and payments and are educating customers on how to recognize online payment scams. Thus, people are slowly moving towards buying high involvement financial items like life insurance as well online.

The human factor

Research is a crucial part of the buying process, and most buyers seek information from multiple sources. While research for several consumer products like electronics and furniture has moved online even if purchase is offline, financial products have been slower to move, especially due to the need for expertise. From the sample, 55% rated talking to financial consultants and advisors as very important. Similarly, 55% rated advice from friends and family as very important.

As is evident, while the world is going online, there is something to be said for the familiarity and comfort of human interaction. Even online buyers value non-digital channels of communication. Of those who bought financial products online, 25% felt that visiting bank branches was important, 30% felt that recommendations from friends and family was important, and 33% felt that discussing it with financial advisors was important.

However, we find that online forums and aggregators are also gaining in terms of people using them to research products. According to a BCG report, search queries on life and health insurance have grown 4.5 times from 2008 to 2013, showing that digital is certainly influencing the research part of the buying cycle. Many life insurance companies and banks have caught on to this trend and are finding ways of making customer service executives available online through chat facilities on their portals. Additionally, companies are also investing in a better online user experience by designing their websites to be simple, attractive and easy-to-understand, so that the process of purchase becomes easier for customers.

When it comes to buying insurance, finding an appropriate plan is not an easy process. Life insurance companies are using technology and algorithms to overcome these human biases with innovative products like life insurance calculators. An example of this is the HDFC Life insurance profiler which simplifies the process of choosing an insurance plan. A person can enter five to six parameters and get an objective opinion on the best insurance plan suited to his or her time and status in life.

HDFC Life Insurance has also taken detailed note of its customers’ requirements as they move towards the digital age. Its product website has been designed to ensure consumers feel secure and well attended to when transacting online. All payment gateways have SSL security and are ISO 27001 certified to ensure optimum security. Additionally, to facilitate easy query resolution, it offers an online chat function along with co-browsing where a user can give control of her or her system to the chat executive so that details can be filled in for them. To solve for the barrier of document submission, HDFC Life even allows users to submit documents through e-mail or upload files on Google drive in place of hard copies. Easy e-KYC facilities allow for the Aadhar card and address proof to be uploaded online to quickly verify identity. To find the right insurance plan for yourself and experience the innovative services that the organization has to proffer head to their insurance profiler to start your journey towards buying a life insurance plan.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HDFC Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.

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