Background: India has taken a step in the right direction with its latest national health policy highlighting the importance of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). However, SDG 5, which addresses gender equality is not clearly outlined in the policy. In India, gender equality has been linked to equal access to healthcare services for men and women. To understand India’s progress toward equal healthcare opportunities for men and women, we describe trends in population health indicators, and burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs); communicable, maternal, neonatal, nutritional diseases (CMNNDs), and injuries in women from India between 1990 to 2015; and compare these rates to the burden of disease in men.
Methods: This cross-sectional study used secondary data from the Institute of Health Metrics & Evaluation (IHME). We measured population health according to World Health Organization standards, using disability adjusted life years (DALYs), years of life lost (YLLs), years lived with disability (YLDs) and age specific death rate (ASD). Using these metrics, we measured trends in the relative importance of NCDs, CMNNDs and injuries amongst women and men.
Results: Between 1990 and 2015, the main cause of death in women from India escalated from CMNNDs to NCDs. From 1990 to 2015, DALYs attributed to CMNNDs declined by 10.7%, while DALYs attributed to NCDs increased by 10.8%. From 1990 to 2015, DALYs due to injuries decreased slightly (0.1%). In women, the main cause of DALYs and YLLs was cardiovascular disease, whereas musculoskeletal disorders was the main cause of YLDs. Over the years, age specific mortality rates declined with increasing age for women when compared to men.
Conclusion: In 2015, NCDs were the leading cause of disability and deaths amongst women in India.