Article Abstract

COPD in India: Iceberg or volcano?

Authors: Arvind B. Bhome


The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the epidemiology of COPD in India which is one of the most affected countries in the world and contributes significantly to the mortality and morbidity of this disease; to provide insights into the etiological determinants of COPD in India; comment on treatment aspects including drug treatment, adherence to guidelines, treatment of exacerbations and to try to comment on whether it differs significantly from rest of the world.The article reviews published literature on COPD in India; provides insight into comparative methodologies involved; comments on gaps in knowledge and suggests areas of further research such as Prescription Audit. India contributes very significantly to mortality from COPD 102.3/100,000 and 6,740,000 DALYs out of world total of 27,756,000 DALYs; thus significantly affecting health related Quality of Life in the country. COPD is surpassing Malaria, TB even today and the gap would get wider with time in near future. The lack of robust real time nation-wide data does plague India as well, however multiple studies from 1994 to 2010 show increasing trends of COPD morbidity and mortality. Since most inhalational drugs are available in the country there is no reason why mortality should not be comparable to rest of the world but there is poor adherence to treatment guidelines, both national and international. Urban centers in India are comparable to their global counterparts in terms of service quality and facilities and this is also work in progress. However, the rural hinterland is poorly serviced; national GDP spending on health is remarkably low. Some innovation is emerging and that could be the harbinger of a new future if properly nurtured. The article is an overview of COPD in India with emphasis on understanding the multi-dimensional nature of the problem and an attempt of providing insight into possible de-bottlenecking to reduce the pain and suffering of millions of COPD patients in India in future.