Seven of the 10 leading causes of deaths in Nepal are non-communicable diseases, states a 2019 report, indicating that most of the untimely deaths that occur every year can be prevented through healthier ways of living.
According to Nepal Burden of Disease 2019, a study report by the Nepal Health Research Council (NHRC) and the Ministry of Health and Population, non-communicable diseases have caused most deaths in Nepal.
Of the 193,331 estimated deaths in 2019, 71.1 per cent were attributed to non-communicable diseases, 21.1 percent to communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases and the remaining 7.8 percent were due to injuries, the NHRC report has revealed.
Cardiovascular diseases ranked on top as the cause of death of people in Nepal with a 24 percent contribution to the total number of deaths. Deaths attributable to cardiovascular diseases were 26.8 per cent in males and 20.7 percent in females.
Chronic respiratory diseases
Chronic respiratory diseases come second among the top causes of deaths in Nepal with 21.1 percent of total deaths attributable to them, per the NHRC report. The proportion of deaths attributable to chronic respiratory diseases was 18.9 percent in males and 23.8 percent in females.
Neoplasm is an abnormal mass of tissue that forms when cells grow and divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Deaths from neoplasms rank third among the causes of deaths in Nepal. Malignant neoplasm (cancer) was responsible for 11.2 percent of total deaths in both sexes, 10.8 per cent of total deaths in males and 11.6 of total deaths in females, per the report.
Respiratory infections and TB
A communicable disease caused by a type of bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, tuberculosis (TB) most commonly affects the lungs (pulmonary tuberculosis), but it can also involve any other organ in which case it is called extra-pulmonary tuberculosis. TB was responsible for 3.9 per cent of total deaths in both sexes, 4.8 per cent of total deaths in males and 2.8 percent of total deaths in females in the reporting period, goes the report.
Ranked fifth among the killer diseases, digestive diseases are another leading cause of deaths of Nepali people, As per the report, digestive diseases are responsible for 5.9 per cent of total deaths in both sexes. Genderwise, they account for 6.4 per cent of total deaths in males and 5.2 per cent in females.
Diarrhea is one of the common digestive diseases in Nepal, the most common of illnesses among children. It continues to be a major cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in Nepal.
Maternal and neonatal disorders
According to Nepal Demographic Health Survey 2016, maternal deaths are a subset of all female deaths; they are defined as deaths that occur during pregnancy or childbirth, or within 42 days after the birth or termination of a pregnancy, but are not due to accidents or violence.
The most common underlying causes of neonatal death are respiratory and cardiovascular disorders of the perinatal period (the timeframe from one year before to 18 to 24 months after the birth of the child) and complications of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Maternal and neonatal diseases were responsible for 5.2 per cent of total deaths in both sexes, 4.5 per cent of total deaths in male and 6.1 per cent of total deaths in females, the NHRC report says.
Diabetes and kidney diseases
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.
Diabetes and kidney diseases were responsible for 4.4 per cent of total deaths in both sexes, 4 percent of total deaths in males and 4.9 per cent of total deaths in females during the reporting period, the report noted.
Deaths due to injuries such as falling from trees or cliffs are more common in young adults.
Injuries leading to lives lost in 2019 included self-harm, falls, drowning, pedestrian road injuries and motorcyclist road injuries.
Unintentional injuries were responsible for 4.2 percent of total deaths in both sexes, 4.5 per cent of the total deaths in males and 4.2 per cent of total deaths in females, the report noted.
Enteric diseases are caused by microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria and parasites that cause intestinal illnesses.
Enteric infections are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in low-income and middle-income countries, particularly among children younger than five years, the World Health Organization states.
As per the report, enteric infections accounted for 3.6 per cent of total deaths in both sexes—2.5 in male and 4.9 in female.
Neurological disorders range from epilepsy to Alzheimer’s disease, from stroke to headache. They also include brain injuries, neuroinfections, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Neurological disorders accounted for 2.3 percent of total deaths in both sexes—1.9 in male and 2.8 in female.
Proportion of deaths due to different causes
Rank Disease Both Male Female
1 Cardiovascular disease 24 26.8 20.7
2 Chronic respiratory disease 21.1 18.9 23.8
3 Neoplasms 11.2 10.8 11.6
4 Respiratory Infections and TB 8.4 8.7 8.1
5 Digestive diseases 5.9 6.4 5.2
6 Maternal and neonatal disorders 5.2 4.5 6.1
7 Diabetes and kidney diseases 4.4 4 4.9
8 Unintentional injuries 4.2 4.5 4.2
9 Enteric infections 3.6 2.5 4.9
10 Neurological disorders 2.3 1.9 2.8