For every 1,000 men whose death is certified by medical professionals, the corresponding figure for women is 600.

Only 375 Indian women get medical attention during last moments of life
news Healthcare Tuesday, November 29, 2016 - 15:54

Devanik Saha

More Indian men are likely to be admitted to hospital during the last moments of life than women -- 62.5 per cent to 37.5 per cent -- a statistic revealed in new government data on deaths certified by a medical professional.

Of 1.06 million certified deaths in 2014, 667,000 were male; 400,000 were female, according to Medical Certification of Cause of Death: 2014, a Census Department report, about 11 percentage points more than the male proportion (51.5 per cent) of India's population.

For every 1,000 men whose death is certified by medical professionals, the corresponding figure for women is 600. Four in five deaths in India were not certified by medical professionals in 2013.

One in every 128 deaths in Jharkhand is certified by a medical professional -- the worst record of any state and an indication of the absence of healthcare in India's second-poorest state by per capita income.

Of 132,099 registered deaths in Jharkhand -- carved out of Bihar in the year 2000 and currently ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party -- 1,028 were medically certified (0.8 per cent), 19.7 per cent lower than the average for India, where 20.5 per cent of deaths are certified. As many as 5.21 million deaths were registered in India in 2014, of which 1.06 million were medically certified.

Though certified deaths doubled in Jharkhand from 458 in 2013 to 1,028 in 2014, the improvement did not move the state of 33 million from the bottom rung. Up to 37 per cent of Jharkhand's population lives below the poverty line, according to a 2014 report of the erstwhile Planning Commission; 50 per cent of Jharkhand's districts have poverty levels above 40 per cent.

No new hospital was opened since the creation of Jharkhand 16 years ago, while the state's population surged by more than five million between 2001 and 2011. No new college opened either over the last 15 years, and existing colleges were not expanded.

Ten states/Union territories reported declines in absolute number of medically certified deaths in 2014 over the previous year: Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Punjab and West Bengal.

As many as 99.5 per cent deaths in Goa were certified -- the highest among all states/Union territories -- followed by Lakshadweep (98.3 per cent) and Puducherry (77.6 per cent).

From 0.9 per cent in 2013 to 21.9 per cent in 2014, Assam registered the largest maximum percentage increase in certified deaths.

Diseases of the circulatory system -- or heart-related diseases -- accounted for more deaths than any other, claiming in equal proportion the lives of men (31 per cent) and women (32 per cent). Death from circulatory system diseases rose from 24 per cent of deaths in 1999 to 32 per cent in 2014, an increase of eight percentage points.

As many as 23 per cent deaths in India between 2010 and 2013 were due to heart-related diseases, according to 2013 census data; 21 per cent in rural and 29 per cent in urban areas. After heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the second-most common affliction.

Deaths due to neoplasm (cancer) increased from 3.6 per cent to 5.4 per cent and deaths due to infectious and parasitic diseases declined from 14.7 per cent to 12 per cent. Neoplasms mean abnormal tissue growth, of which cancer is the most common.

The prevalence of breast cancer increased by 166 per cent between 1990 and 2013, prostate cancer cases rose 220 per cent, deaths due to ovarian cancer 123 per cent, and deaths due to mouth cancer among men 134 per cent.

Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, is estimated to have the largest number of cancer cases in 2014. Maharashtra ranks second, followed by Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.


(In arrangement with, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Devanik Saha is with the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at

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