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Dhaka Tribune

Experts urge govt to bolster budget to tackle rising NCD deaths

  • Just 4.2% of the health budget goes to NCDs
  • NDCs responsible for 70% of deaths in Bangladesh
Update : 06 Apr 2024, 05:05 PM

Bangladesh is witnessing an alarming surge in deaths attributed to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), yet the budget allocated to combat them remains inadequate.

Public health experts have called for increased allocation in this sector in the upcoming FY2024-25 national budget.

Similar recommendations were highlighted at a webinar titled “Budgetary Allocation to Combat NCDs: Bangladesh Perspective” on Saturday on the occasion of World Health Day.

The webinar was organized by the research and advocacy organization  (Knowledge for Progress) with support from the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), this year the day will be observed under the theme “My Health, My Right”.

It was informed at the webinar that NCDs, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, kidney diseases, and respiratory diseases, are responsible for 70% of total deaths in Bangladesh. 

A number of risk factors, including unhealthy eating habits, excess sodium or salt intake, tobacco use, lack of physical labor, air pollution, etc. are at play behind the spike in the prevalence of NCDs. 

However, just 4.2% of the health budget goes to NCDs, which is concerning and the webinar also showed that Bangladesh allocated only 5% of its fiscal year 2023-24 budget on healthcare, against the World Health Organization's recommendation of 15%. 

The government's health budgetary support is one of the lowest in the WHO South-East Asia region.

Professor Dr Sohel Reza Choudhury, head of the Department of Epidemiology and Research, National Heart Foundation, said: “The prevalence of non-communicable diseases can be controlled to a great extent by reducing the risk of hypertension alone. It is crucial to ensure the necessary allocation in the upcoming budget to implement the decision of including anti-hypertensive medicines in the drug list of community clinics along with reducing the amount of salt intake among the public.”

Muhammad Ruhul Quddus, Bangladesh country lead of GHAI, said: “Research shows that investing Tk1 for hypertension screening and medicines can yield an overall benefit worth Tk18. Therefore, sustainable funding for this sector must be ensured in addition to increasing the budget allocation to safeguard public health.”

Dr Laila Akhter, director of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA), was also present at the webinar as one of the discussants.

The keynote presentation was delivered by PROGGA’s Coordinator Sadia Galiba Prova and the webinar was chaired by PROGGA’s Executive Director ABM Zubair. 

People of different professions from different regions of the country participated in the webinar.

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