About 97 per cent of people in Bangladesh are at the risk of non-communicable diseases as most of the metabolic and behavioural risk factors for such diseases are highly prevalent in Bangladeshis, found a new survey report released on Wednesday.
The risk factors considered in the survey included lack of healthy diets and physical activity, intake of tobacco and alcohol, body mass index, blood sugar, cholesterol and hypertension.
Health minister Zahid Maleque at the ministry unveiled the findings of the survey conducted by the National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine with technical support from World Health Organization.
The survey findings revealed that 97 per cent of Bangladeshis were at the risk of non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular diseases, brain haemorrhage, chronic respiratory diseases, kidney damage and cancer.
It found that about 90 per cent of Bangladeshis took less than five servings of fruits and vegetables, an amount globally considered as ideal intake of fruit and vegetables.
A serving of fruits is equal to a moderate-sized apple and a serving of vegetable is equal to a medium-sized cup of vegetables.
The survey found that over 48 per cent of Bangladeshis had unhealthy dietary behaviour of adding salt to their foods and over 28 per cent people took no physical activity.
About 44 per cent people use tobacco, either puff or chew, it found.
The survey found Bangladeshis unaware of their blood sugar level and cholesterol as about 71 per cent people never measured their blood sugar and 94 per cent never measured cholesterol.
It found 29 per cent of urban and 24 per cent of rural people hypertensive, 13 per cent of urban and 7 per cent of rural people having diabetes while 32 per cent of urban and 27 per cent of rural people having raised cholesterol.
Principal investigator of the survey Baizid Khoorshid Riaz told New Age that the survey found a worrying picture of Bangladeshis about the risk factors for non-communicable diseases.
‘These essential indicators of non-communicable diseases will help the policymakers to adopt necessary intervention to combat the burden of non-communicable diseases,’ said Baizid, also director of the institute.
Health minister Zahid Maleque said the survey findings were frustrating as the Bangladeshis were not taking adequate fruits and vegetables and leading unhealthy life.
He said that the nation once suffered from communicable diseases but the pattern shifted now.
‘Now 67 per cent of Bangladeshis are dying of non-communicable diseases,’ he said.
The minister said that many other risk factors like environment pollution and unsafe foods were contributing to non-communicable diseases.
‘We have to be aware now and work united to prevent non-communicable diseases, treatment of which is very costly,’ he said.
Asked about the readiness of the government to prevent non-communicable diseases, he said the government alone could not do everything, but the health ministry would not shrug off its responsibility.
‘People have to be aware of how to prevent the non-communicable diseases,’ he said.
According to the World Health Organization, at least 5,72,600 people in Bangladesh annually meet premature deaths because of non-communicable diseases.
Non-communicable diseases are estimated to account for 67 per cent of all deaths, it says.
Cardiovascular diseases top the list of deaths caused by non-communicable diseases, accounting 31 per cent of total deaths in Bangladesh.
Besides, death are also caused by communicable diseases and maternal, perinatal and nutritional conditions in 26 percent, cancer in 12 per cent, chronic respiratory diseases in 10 per cent, diabetes in 3 per cent, other non-communicable diseases in 12 per cent and injures in 7 per cent cases.
Bangladesh Health Rights Movement chairman Rashid-e-Mahbub told New Age on Wednesday that specific programmes on awareness, early detection and treatment should be ensured at all level across the country to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases.
He said that the current health workforce in Bangladesh was not adequately equipped for screening and treating non-communicable diseases at the community level while the number of trained personnel at the secondary and tertiary care services was not sufficient for systematic risk assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
‘Public sensitisation is crucial to reduce the burden of NCDs in the country so that the people themselves become aware and go to doctors for screening of NCDs,’ said the surgery professor.
He said that Bangladesh being a poor country had a grave concern about non-communicable diseases as their treatment were costly, which the vast majority of the people could not afford.
The government have to ensure low-cost treatment for the poor, he added.