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70% deaths from NCDs, increased budgetary allocation demanded

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Despite the alarming increase in deaths related to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Bangladesh, the allocation in the national budget falls significantly short in combating them. To effectively curb the growing prevalence of NCDs, it is essential to secure adequate funding for this sector in the upcoming budget for FY 2024-25. Such demands were made at a workshop for journalists titled “Budgetary Allocation to Combat NCDs: Bangladesh Perspective” held at the capital’s BMA Bhaban on Monday, April 29. The workshop was organized by research and advocacy organization PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) with support from Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI). Twenty-eight journalists working in print, television and online media participated in the workshop.

It was informed at the workshop that NCDs, such as heart diseases, stroke, cancer, kidney diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes, and hypertension, are the most prevalent causes of death in Bangladesh and account for 70% of the total deaths. However, the budgetary allocation dedicated to combat NCDs is alarmingly low, comprising only 4.2 percent of the total health budget.

Dr. Md. Enamul Haque, Director General (Additional Secretary), Health Economics Unit said at the workshop, “The World Health Organization recommends countries to allocate at least 15% of their total budget to the health sector. Considering the practical context, it has been recommended in the latest strategic investment plan of the Bangladesh government to increase the budgetary allocation in health sector to 7%. However, the health budget has remained within 5% over the past few years. In order to combat NCDs, it is necessary not only to increase the allocation, but also to enhance efficiency in terms of its expenditure.”

Muhammad Ruhul Quddus, Bangladesh Country Lead of GHAI, said, “Many lives can be saved and the risk of serious non-communicable diseases such as heart attacks and strokes can be reduced to a great extent by allocating necessary funding to ensure availability of anti-hypertensive medicines in community clinics alone.”

Julhas Alam, Journalist and Managing Committee Member of National Press Club, Mortuza Haider Liton, Convenor, Anti tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA), Mizan Chowdhury, Co-convenor, ATMA, and ABM Zubair, Executive Director of PROGGA were present at the workshop as discussants. The key-note presentation was delivered by PROGGA’s Coordinator Sadia Galiba Prova.

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