The World Food Safety Day 2022 is being observed with the theme – “Safer food, better health”. The day is of great importance for Bangladesh as consumption of unsafe food is leading to exponential rise in prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and related mortality in the country. Speakers expressed the importance of safe food for tackling NCDs like hypertension and cardiovascular diseases at a webinar marking World Food Safety Day today on Tuesday, 07 June 2022 organized by research and advocacy organization PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) with the support from the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI).
It was informed at the webinar that, one in every five (21%) adults in Bangladesh are suffering from hypertension at present and intake of unsafe food is greatly responsible for it. Hypertension causes increased risks of cardiovascular diseases while 277,000 people die of cardiovascular diseases each year in the country. Half of the women (51%) and two thirds of men (67%) are not even aware of their hypertension conditions in Bangladesh. According to the data of the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) 2019, hypertension is one of the three major risk factors of death and disability in Bangladesh. Speakers shared at the webinar that, Bangladesh has pledged to achieve the target for NCD prevention by 2025 and the targets for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of 20230. Hypertension burden is a major hindrance in achieving these goals and targets.
It was also informed at the webinar that, food laden with industrially produced trans fats is harmful for the health. Intake of excessive trans fat with food leads to increased risks of hypertension and mortality from cardiovascular diseases. Although the Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) has already promulgated the “Controlling Trans Fatty Acids in Foodstuffs Regulation, 2021”, however, the people of the country are yet to pick the fruit of this great initiative as the regulation is yet to be implemented.
Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) Member (Food Industry and Production) Professor Dr. Md Abdul Alim, GHAI Bangladesh Country Lead Muhammad Ruhul Quddus, Associate Professor at the Department of Public Health and Informatics of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Dr. Romen Raihan, Director of the Center for Non-Communicable Disease and Nutrition at the BRAC James P Grant School of Public Health Professor Dr. Malay Kanti Mridha, Upazila Health & Family Planning Officer at the Beanibazar Upazila Health Complex Dr. Md. Delowar Hossain Shumon, Hypertension Control Program Manager at the National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh Dr. Mahfuzur Rahman Bhuiyan, Professor at the Department of Food Technology and Rural Industries of the Bangladesh Agricultural University Dr. Abdullah Iqbal, President of Bangladesh Health Reporters’ Forum and Senior Correspondent at the Daily Amader Somoy Rashed Rabbi, and Executive Director of PROGGA ABM Zubair were present at the webinar as discussants. The webinar was conducted by PROGGA’s Coordinator Shihab Mahmud. People from all over the country including representatives of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Sciences (INFS) of the University of Dhaka, Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), Bangladesh Agro Processors Association (BAPA), Bangladesh Food Safety Foundation (BFSF), and Bangladesh Food and Nutrition Association (BAFNA), along with a number of doctors, nutritionists, journalists and other people of varying professions took part in the webinar