Non-communicable diseases becomes epidemic

Abu Taher, 45, was a financially solvent one who had almost everything like land, pond and cash money, to lead a decent life, reports BSS. He died of a sudden cardiac arrest a few years ago, leaving his six-member family in plight. His death had forced the future of his four school children into uncertainty. Living in marginal Gobaria village in Kishoreganj, Taher used to take unhealthy diet such as red meat and smoke cigarette, which contributed to his untimely death.

One year after Taher’s death, his neighbour Abul Kasem, 38, also suffered from a heart attack, but he luckily escaped the death that time after he was sent to a hospital. Kasem also used to take unhealthy diet and smoke cigarette and that is why he has now been suffering from the chronic disease. Nowadays, he has to spend a huge amount of money as treatment cost per month to survive from the disease.

Like Kasem, a huge number of people in the country are suffering from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and many die of the chronic diseases. NCDs, also known as chronic diseases, tend to be of long duration and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental and behaviours factors.
The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma and diabetes.

A survey report titled ‘Bangladesh NCD Risk Factor Survey 2018’ revealed at a press conference in the capital on Wednesday showed that NCDs cause 60 percent deaths every year in Bangladesh while about 97 percent people are at risk of NCDs. The survey identified six risk factors of NCDs — tobacco use, consuming less fruits and vegetables, insufficient physical activity, being overweight, high blood pressure and high cholesterol level in blood.

The National Institute of Preventive and Social Medicine (NIPSOM) under the Health and Family Welfare Ministry with support from the Non-Communicable Disease Control (NCDC) Division and the World Health Organization (WHO) carried out the cross-sectional survey among adult population (aged 18-69) across all the divisions of the country from September 2017 to June 2018.

The survey shows about 70 percent people have at least two of the risk factors, while over 68 percent males and 73 percent females have two of the six risk factors. About 70 percent people of the country are suffering from high blood pressure. Of the country’s total population, 70.8 percent have never checked their blood glucose level. Among men, 73.6 percent have never measured blood glucose level, while the rate among women is 68.5 percent.

Over 20 percent people are overweight, and five and a half percent of the total population are obese, according to the survey. Highlighting the findings of the survey at the press conference, principal researcher Prof Dr Baizid Khoorshid Riaz said the adult people in the country are at high risk of NCDs due to obesity, for taking extra salt and tobacco and alcohol and taking unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.

He said about 71 percent people of the country are at risk of one or two reasons, while most of them at risk of three or four more reasons. The survey suggested preventing and controlling NCDs, prioritising primary healthcare, ensuring availability of and access to fruits and vegetables round the year through effective strategies and promoting physical activity.

Speaking at the press conference, Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the NCDs become endemic in the country as the chronic diseases cause 60 percent deaths every year here. As the country’s 70 percent people never check their blood cholesterol level, he said, they do not know when they will suffer from stroke, heart attack, diabetics and kidney failure.

NCDs disproportionately affect people in low- and middle-income countries like Bangladesh. People of all age groups, regions and countries are affected by NCDs. According to the WHO, NCDs kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71 percent of all deaths globally. Each year, 15 million people die from a NCD between the ages of 30 and 69 years, while over 85 percent of these “premature” deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers (9.0 million), respiratory diseases (3.9 million), and diabetes (1.6 million).