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World Health Day

Addressing health challenges and the need for awareness

IFTEKHARUL ISLAM | April 07, 2024 00:00:00

In Bangladesh, where healthcare concerns are diverse, World Health Day is particularly significant due to the high out-of-pocket spending on healthcare. Insufficient government spending on public healthcare hampers development, pushing families into poverty and increasing their vulnerability to preventable fatal diseases. This year's theme, 'My health, my right', emphasizes the need for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic level, to have access to sufficient health care, education, clean water, nutrition, and safe working conditions.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) shows Bangladesh's leading diseases include stroke, ischemic heart disease, respiratory diseases, neonatal complications, diabetes, diarrheal diseases, and tuberculosis.

Over the last decade, deaths from neonatal complications have decreased by over 40%, but heart and respiratory diseases have increased significantly. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for an estimated 70% of total deaths in Bangladesh in 2019.


Strokes in Bangladesh are classified into two types: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain is blocked, while hemorrhagic stroke involves bleeding into the brain due to a ruptured blood vessel.

Both types can result in severe consequences, including paralysis, speech difficulties, and even death. In 2019, stroke was the leading cause of non-communicable disease mortality, resulting in 140 deaths per 1 lakh population.

Efforts to address the burden include raising awareness about risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and smoking, improving access to quality healthcare services, early detection, and timely treatment.

Ischemic Heart Disease:

Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD), also known as coronary artery disease or heart attack, occurs when the heart's blood flow is constricted due to constricted arteries. This decrease in blood flow deprives the heart muscle of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in chest discomfort (angina) or a heart attack.

According to the most recent available statistics, ischemic heart disease remains the second leading cause of death in Bangladesh, accounting for 111 deaths per 1 lakh population in 2019. Sedentary lifestyles, poor diets, tobacco use, and increased urbanization have all contributed to an increase in the incidence of IHD.

Coronary Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD):

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that restricts airflow from the lungs, causing breathing problems.

In Bangladesh, COPD incidence is increasing due to air pollution, indoor cooking smoke, and an increase in smokers. The country's heavily populated metropolitan regions, industrial pollution, and extensive use of solid fuels contribute to the high COPD rate, making it a severe public health issue. In 2019, more than 49 people from every 1 lakh population died from this disease, making it the third leading cause of mortality in this country.

Neonatal Disorders:

Neonatal disorders are health conditions affecting newborns within the first 28 days of life. These disorders can range from congenital anomalies to infections acquired during childbirth or shortly after.

Though the country has improved from having neonatal disorders as the number one mortality cause, they are still the fifth leading cause, as per the latest data in 2019. 31.2 infants per 1 lakh population died from such conditions. The concerning fact is that it has become fifth from seventh-leading cause of mortality, meaning the situation needs to be improved.

Neonatal disorders in Bangladesh, such as birth asphyxia, neonatal sepsis, prematurity, and congenital anomalies, are prevalent due to limited access to quality healthcare services, especially in rural areas. Socioeconomic factors like poverty, malnutrition, and limited prenatal care contribute to the burden of these disorders.

Diarrhoeal Disease:

Diarrhoeal disease is a significant public health issue in Bangladesh, particularly among children under five. In 2019, 31.2 of every 1 lakh population succumbed to this disease, making it the sixth leading cause of mortality in this country.

The diarrhoeal disease accounts for a significant proportion of hospital admissions and outpatient visits across healthcare facilities in Bangladesh.

Seasonal variations and environmental factors can worsen the transmission of diarrheal pathogens, especially during the monsoon season.


Diabetes is a growing public health concern in Bangladesh, affecting a significant proportion of the population in both urban and rural areas. Factors contributing to this increase include sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy diets, and genetic predispositions.

Diabetes is associated with various complications, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, neuropathy, and vision impairment, leading to increased morbidity and mortality rates.

In 2019, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of mortality, accounting for 30.8 deaths per 1 lakh population.

Healthcare providers emphasize early detection and diagnosis, as well as effective management through medication, lifestyle modifications, and regular monitoring.

The healthcare system has tough challenges: lack of financial resources, skilled human resources, inequality in receiving adequate treatment, and many others. Health is a fundamental human right. Echoing the motto of this year's World Health Day, more resources should be redirected, and more awareness must be raised to ensure the necessary healthcare for every individual.

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