Deaths from heart disease, cancer, diabetes on the rise
Monday, 19 October 2009

The severity of chronic non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, are rising in developing countries, including Bangladesh.

In Bangladesh, 12 out of the top 25 causes of deaths are from such diseases, revealed a discussion organised by Eminence, a local NGO supported by WHO.

Non-communicable diseases caused around 60 percent of all deaths worldwide in 2005 with deaths from these diseases rising 17 percent in the last 10 years. Among the diseases are – heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, peptic ulcers and liver disease.

In his keynote paper, Dhaka University professor Barkat-e-Khuda said that though there is a belief that these diseases are more common in developed countries in fact the reality is quite different.

Irregular food habits, sedentary lifestyle, being over-weight, malnutrition, genetic reasons and smoking are the main reasons why such diseases are on the rise in developing countries too.

Diabetes alone causes six percent of all deaths in Bangladesh for lack of awareness and not treating the disease in time, said Khuda.

City dwellers and women were more prone to many of these diseases, he said. "Prevention of these diseases is cheaper than treatment," he added.

Though smoking is also a big reason for many such diseases around the world, no government wants to take action against cigarette companies fearing loss of tax revenues, said speakers at the seminar. They also emphasised smoking-free work environments.

The government, along with Eminence and other NGOs working in the sector, must come forward to build awareness of these life-threatening diseases and provide proper treatment facilities, they said.

Research at the state and private level, preventive measures, advertisement and education about diet control at the school and college level was also suggested.

The discussion was presided over by Eminence adviser and WHO official in Bangladesh AM Zakir Hossain. Representatives from World Health Organisation, Unicef and other institutes also attended.


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