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Dhaka Tribune

Non-Communicable Diseases are major challenge to Bangladesh’s development

Public health experts, and medical practitioners made the observation at a scientific congress on NCD, jointly organized by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), and International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) at BSMMU Auditorium on Sunday

Update : 20 Oct 2019, 09:28 PM

Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) has figured a dramatic rise in recent times, as Bangladesh is becoming a highly populated middle-income transition country which need advance research, and development to tackle this emerging challenge, Health professionals and expert said on Sunday. 

Public health experts, and medical practitioners made the observation at a scientific congress on NCD, jointly organized by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), and International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b) at BSMMU Auditorium on Sunday. 

Three-day long congress will conclude on October 22.

Addressing the event as chief guest, Md Asadul Islam, secretary to the Health Service Division said: “Recent data shows a rising trend of health related incidents, and a dramatic increase of NCDs in the developing world.  At the same time, medical diagnostic cost has shot up due to high demands for MRI, and CT scan.”

Emphasizing on continued research and development, he said, close cooperation and collaboration between public health agencies such as BSMMU, and icddr,b was needed to undertake advance, and evidence-based research. 

BSMMU Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr Kanak Kanti Barua said: “The pattern of various diseases has seen significant changes. Disease pattern of the 90’s is not similar to the present time. Once, 7 out of 10 deaths reported were due to communicable diseases, now, 7 out of 10 die suffering from NCDs.”

Medical practitioners at the scientific conference on NCD at BSMMU auditorium on Sunday, October 20, 2019 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

“Prevention is better than cure. If we invest more funding to prevention of the NCDs, that, in turn, would be more cost efficient than medical intervention, and expensive treatment.”

He said: “Dengue related diseases could not have taken so many lives this year, had we taken measurable action plans to assess the outbreak properly,” he said. “Our doctors and students did not have the necessary time, and space to carry out research due to the higher number of dengue patients, however, BSMMU is expected to undertake more research, and education on NCDs.” 

NCDs do not spread by a vector. Non-communicable diseases tend to be of long duration, and are the result of a combination of genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioural factors. The main types of NCDs are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancer, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma), and diabetes.

Syed Monjurul Islam, deputy executive director and the chief operating officer of ICDDRB said: “In the past, we mainly put our focus on communicable diseases.  Currently, NCDs account for tens of thousands of deaths in Bangladesh, and the problem should now be defined as the main development challenge to Bangladesh”

This is a significant social and economic issue. NCDs can result in families losing their primary income earner, which can result in poverty, and the withdrawal of family members from employment, and education opportunities to care for their affected loved ones.

“Medicine is not the only way out. Some diseases may be prevented by changing lifestyle, environment, and dietary habits. We need to collect more information, and tested knowledge to address the issue appropriately, and research is important for that matter,” he said.

Dr. Md.Shahidullah Sikder pro vice-chancellor (research and development) of BSMMU said: “Disease pattern has undergone significant mutation. Diarrheal disease has been one of the most focused illnesses in the past, but now the focus is on NCDs. 

“It is quite possible to prevent NCDs as we effectively intervene, and address communicable diseases. Medical doctors are to treat and care for patients, but they will have to be adequately prepared, well in advance, in order to treat patients,” he said.

Dr Aliya Naheed, head of Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Initiative at the icddr,b  made the welcome speech as one of the conveners of the congress. 

Officials told Dhaka Tribune that the congress has already received more than 200 clinical research papers. Among the 90 scholarly papers that will be presented in sessions in the congress, the top 20 papers will be recognized with awards.  

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