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Health Promotion Initiative a Must for Sustainable Health Development- Speakers at a Journalists’ Workshop

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Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart attack, stroke, cancer, and diabetes etc. are responsible for about 70 percent of total deaths in Bangladesh. Tobacco consumption, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption and air pollution are some of the major risk factors of NCDs. Adoption and implementation of a health promotion initiative would enable the country to reduce the above-mentioned risk factors and also slash the number of NCD-attributable deaths. Such recommendations have been made today (09 May 2024, Thursday) during a journalists’ workshop titled ‘Health Promotion for a Sustainable Health Development: Bangladesh Perspective” held at the BMA Bhaban of the capital. A total of 25 journalists from both print and TV media have participated in this workshop.

It was informed during the event that the concept of ‘health’ is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. While ‘healthcare system’, as a concept, generally comprises five different aspects, namely (a) health promotion, (b) disease prevention and safety, (c) treatment, (d) rehabilitation and (e) palliative, the ‘treatment’ aspect traditionally gets most of the attention.

According to WHO, ‘Health Promotion’ is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. For instance, creating a conducive environment that encourages people who are overweight and following a sedentary lifestyle to engage in full-body sweat workouts for at least half an hour a day, pushes them to avoid extra fat-salt-sugar; motivates them to quit tobacco and alcohol, can be considered as a ‘Health Promotion’ activity. However, it is quite impossible to tackle the burgeoning burden of NCDs by the Health Ministry alone. WHO has emphasized adopting and implementing a coordinated action that requires involvement of both the government and non-government stakeholders. A total of 11 countries including Australia, Thailand, and Singapore, have already made remarkable progress in reducing the risk factors of NCDs by adopting and implementing health promotion programs.

The chief guest of the event, eminent economist Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said, “Bangladesh earns nearly BDT 300 crore a year from Health Development Surcharge (HDS). This sum was supposed to be spent on health development programs. Establishing an independent body for health promotion initiative and spending such massive amount through the entity would surely benefit both the people and the government.

Dr. Md. Enamul Haque, Director General of Health Economics Unit said, “The government is implementing different health promotion activities. A coordinated measure is necessary for sustainable development of health sector.”

According to a WHO study, in 2020, the current out-of-pocket expenditure (OPP) in Bangladesh is almost 74 percent and two-thirds of the amount is spent on medication. Prioritizing and strengthening disease prevention through health promotion programs would slash the out-of-pocket expense and reduce diseases, deaths and the burden on our healthcare system.

Among the discussants at the event were Gaous Pearee, Director, Work for Better Bangladesh (WBB), Mortuza Haider Liton, Convener, Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA), Nadira Kiron and Mizan Chowdhury, both Co-conveners, ATMA, and ABM Zubair, Executive Director, PROGGA. The key findings were presented by Mr. Hasan Shahriar, Head of Programs, PROGGA.

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