Tuesday, June 25, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Speakers: Health promotion authority must for sustainable health development

  • Bangladesh earns nearly Tk300 crore a year from Health Development Surcharge
  • Govt implementing different health promotion activities
Update : 09 May 2024, 06:42 PM

Speakers at a workshop on Thursday emphasised the necessity of establishing a health promotion authority in Bangladesh, similar to those in Thailand and other countries, for sustainable health development and effectively combating the rising prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs)."

They said NCDs, including heart diseases, stroke, cancer, kidney diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes, and hypertension, collectively account for a staggering 70% of total deaths in Bangladesh.

Besides, the experts said that tobacco consumption, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption, and air pollution are some of the major risk factors of NCDs that can be reduced through lifestyle changes implemented via health promotion initiatives.

Research and advocacy organization PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) arranged the workshop for journalists titled “Health Promotion for a Sustainable Health Development: Bangladesh Perspective" at the capital’s BMA Bhaban.

A total of 25 journalists from both print and TV media participated in the workshop.

Speaking at the workshop as the chief guest, eminent economist Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said Bangladesh earns nearly Tk300 crore a year from Health Development Surcharge (HDS) and this amount was supposed to be spent on health development programs.

“Establishing an independent body for health promotion initiatives and allocating such a substantial amount through this entity would undoubtedly benefit both the people and the government," he added.

Dr Md Enamul Haque, director general (additional secretary) of the Health Economics Unit at the Health Services Division, said: “The government is implementing different health promotion activities. A coordinated measure is necessary for sustainable development of the health sector."

He also advocated for founding a health promotion authority like that of Thailand so that the risk factors of NCDs can be reduced by bringing a change in people’s lifestyles. “It’s not possible to get rid of the growing diseases through treatment and health service facilities. But it’s possible to prevent the diseases through health promotion initiatives.”

In his keynote papers, PROGGA’s program head Hasan Shahriar said coordinated efforts should be taken urgently to establish an independent health promotion body to check the root causes of the NCDS and reduce ever-increasing out-of-pocket expenditure (OPP) in Bangladesh.

According to a WHO study, in 2020, he said the current out-of-pocket expenditure in Bangladesh is almost 74% and two-thirds of the amount is spent on medication.

“Prioritizing and strengthening disease prevention through health promotion programs would slash the out-of-pocket expense and reduce diseases, deaths and the burden on our healthcare system,” Shahria observed.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Health Promotion” is the process of empowering individuals to enhance control over, and improve their health. For example, establishing an environment conducive to encouraging individuals who are overweight and leading sedentary lifestyles to engage in vigorous exercise for at least thirty minutes a day promotes avoidance of excess fat, salt, and sugar, while motivating them to abstain from tobacco and alcohol. Such efforts qualify as “Health Promotion” activities.

Notably, eleven countries, including Australia, Thailand, and Singapore, have made significant strides in reducing the risk factors associated with NCDs through the adoption and implementation of health promotion programs.

Gaous Pearee, director, Work for Better Bangladesh (WBB), Mortuza Haider Liton, convener, Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA), Nadira Kiron and Mizan Chowdhury, both co-conveners, ATMA, and ABM Zubair, executive director, PROGGA, among others, spoke at the program.

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