A third of global health burden related to mental illness is in China and India

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global health burden in China and India

China and India jointly account for 38% of the world population, and it is important to understand the burden attributed to mental illness within the two countries.

In a recent paper published in The Lancet, researchers analyze the burden of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders in China and India.

Researchers from The University of Queensland, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, University of Washington, Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, Public Health Foundation of India, and Maastricht University in The Netherlands conducted the analysis.

The data were from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 (GBD 2013). GBD is a comprehensive regional and global research program that assesses mortality and disability from major diseases, injuries, and risk factors.

It is a collaboration of over 500 researchers representing over 300 institutions and 50 countries. In the study, researchers estimated the mental illness prevalence, incidence, duration and death of participants.

They found that about a third of global burden related to mental, neurological, and substance use disorders was found in China and India. This number is greater than all developed countries combined.

Furthermore, the two countries had different disease burden profiles: India showed similarities with other developing countries, whereas China was more closely resembled developed countries.

In addition, the overall population growth in India explains a greater proportion of the increase in mental, neurological, and substance use disorder burden from 1990 to 2013 (44%) than in China (20%).

Finally, the burden of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders is estimated to increase by 10% in China and 23% in India between 2013 and 2025.

Researchers suggest that the burden of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders in China and India warrants the urgent creation of programmes that focus on targeted prevention, early identification, and effective treatment.


Citation: Charlson FJ, et al. (2016). The burden of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders in China and India: a systematic analysis of community representative epidemiological studies. The Lancet,388:376-389. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(16)30590-6.
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