Background: While controlling the outbreak of communicable diseases (CDs) remained a priority, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are placing an unavoidable burden on the health and social security system. India, a developing nation in South Asia, has seen an unprecedented economic growth in the past few years; however, it struggled to fight the burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Therefore, this study aimed at examining the burden of CDs and NCDs among elderly in India.
Methods: Data from Longitudinal Ageing Study in India (LASI Wave-I, 2017-18) were drawn to conduct this study. Response variables were the occurrence of CDs and NCDs. The bi-variate and binary logistic regression were used to predict the association between communicable and non-communicable diseases by various socio-demographic and health parameters. Furthermore, to understand the inequalities of communicable and non-communicable diseases in urban and rural areas, the Fairlie decomposition technique was used to predict the contribution toward rural-urban inequalities in CDs and NCDs.
Results: Prevalence of communicable diseases was higher among uneducated elderly than those with higher education (31.9% vs. 17.3%); however, the prevalence of non-communicable diseases was higher among those with higher education (67.4% vs. 47.1%) than uneducated elderly. The odds of NCDs were higher among female elderly (OR=1.13; C.I. = 1-1.27) than their male counterparts. Similarly, the odds of CDs were lower among urban elderly (OR=0.70; C.I. = 0.62-0.81) than rural elderly, and odds of NCDs were higher among urban elderly (OR=1.85; C.I. = 1.62-2.10) than their rural counterparts. Results found that education (50%) contributes nearly half of the rural-urban inequality in the prevalence of CDs among the elderly. Education status and current working status were the two significant predictors of widening rural-urban inequality in the prevalence of NCDs among the elderly.
Conclusion: The burden of both CD and NCD among the elderly population requires immediate intervention. The needs of men and women and urban and rural elderly must be addressed through appropriate effort. In a developing country like India, preventive measures, rather than curative measures of communicable diseases, will be cost-effective and helpful.