For all the panic it’s spreading, the coronavirus is far from being the most dangerous threat to us
Deadly arithmetic: For all the panic it’s spreading, the coronavirus is far from being the most dangerous threat to us
The bad news is that the coronavirus pandemic is rampant in India, one of the worst affected countries in the world.
The worse news is that there are far more life-threatening afflictions in India than the coronavirus, merciless killers which make Covid-19 look like a mischievous schoolchild in comparison.
As this is written, India has seen a total number of some 12 lakh cases of coronavirus infections, of which some 7 lakh people have recovered and 28,000 have died.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in 2016 there were more than 2.8 million deaths in the country due to cardiovascular disease, more than half of these of people below the age of 70.
The National Cancer Registry Programme maintained by the ICMR records over a million deaths by this disease every year, a number which is growing annually.
Health authorities have estimated that a further 2.3 million premature deaths are caused each year by various forms of pollution, with air pollution alone accounting for over 1.2 million deaths per year.
But perhaps the gravest threat to Indian lives is what is often called the ‘silent killer’ of chronic malnutrition, which is a euphemism for slow starvation. One out of every three of the country’s children are ‘stunted’, their bodies and their brains significantly less developed than they ought to be for their age.
This ‘stunting’, caused by shortage of food, is irreversible. This results in a vicious spiral in which, on reaching adulthood, if they manage to survive these victims of slow starvation are, both physically and mentally, doomed to inescapable poverty, which their children in turn will inherit.
There are reportedly more than 1.6 million under-five child deaths every year, with more than 4,500 child deaths every day, the highest in the world, more than in sub-Saharan Africa.
This when we hear about rats eating hundreds of tons of grain stored in government godowns, and when 10% of the country’s population is clinically obese.
Oh yes, the coronavirus will have to be mighty smart to get us before a far more efficient dealer of death does the job first.
DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author’s own.