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Experts for increased budget to combat NCDs

UNB . Dhaka
06 Apr 2024 17:44:37 | Update: 06 Apr 2024 17:44:37
Experts for increased budget to combat NCDs

Public health experts on Saturday called for increased allocation in the health sector in the upcoming FY 2024-25 national budget as budgetary allocation to combat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) remains inadequate.

They made the call at a webinar titled "Budgetary Allocation to Combat NCDs: Bangladesh Perspective" held on the occasion of World Health Day.

The webinar was organised by the research and advocacy organisation PROGGA (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."

Speakers said NCDs, such as hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, kidney diseases, and respiratory diseases, are responsible for 70 per cent of total deaths in Bangladesh.

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

They also said the budgetary allocation dedicated to combating NCDs is alarmingly low, comprising only 4.2 per cent of the total health budget.

The speakers said despite the World Health Organisation's recommendation for countries to allocate at least 15 per cent of their total budget for the health sector, Bangladesh allocated only 5 per cent of its total budget for healthcare in the fiscal year 2023-24.

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

Head of the Department of Epidemiology and Research, National Heart Foundation, Professor Dr Sohel Reza Choudhury, 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."

Bangladesh Country Lead of GHAI Muhammad Ruhul Quddus said, "Research shows that investing Tk 1 for hypertension screening and medicines can yield an overall benefit worth Tk 18. Therefore, sustainable funding for this sector must be ensured in addition to increasing the budget allocation to safeguard public health."

Director of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) Dr Laila Akhter 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.