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Economic Cost of Food Adulteration and Contamination in India

India for several years has been known to have the highest burden of Communicable diseases (CDs) in the world, with Malaria and Tuberculosis among the leading causes of death. Simultaneously, India is witnessing an increase in chronic disease related morbidity and mortality due to which Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs) have emerged as a potent threat. Adulteration and contamination of food is a growing problem in India. According to Public Health Foundation of India, 80% of all premature deaths occur due to contaminated food and water. Inadequate sanitation and lack of clean drinking water exacerbate the risk of contracting diseases.

The World Bank estimates that 21% of CDs in India are related to unsafe water. Diarrhoea alone causes more than 1,600 deaths daily. Open defecation continues to be a problem. Latrine usage is extremely poor in rural areas, where only 14% of the rural population has access to a latrine.

To improve the overall health of the country, safe drinking water, improved sanitation facilities, controlling food adulteration and chemical contamination of air, water and soil should be made priority areas and require immediate attention of the government and public health authorities.

This study is one small but necessary step in this direction and attempts to estimate Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) and Economic costs attributable to food adulteration and other environmental and contamination risks that cause CDs and NCDs in India.

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