The Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey (BDHS) 2017-18 made public on January 20 paints an extremely grim picture, particularly about the alarming rise in the number of people affected by two of the most prevalent silent killers, hypertension and diabetes.
A few statistics would help convey the magnitude of the problem in our country. Some three crore people aged 18 and above suffer from hypertension while 1.1 crore of the same age group suffer from diabetes. Women are the worst affected. Alarmingly, according to some health experts, the situation on the ground is far worse than what the report reveals. Even more disturbing is that, most of those afflicted with these diseases are not aware of the fact, primarily because these do not have any symptoms until irreparable damage has been done to the body.
Lack of exercise and unhealthy food habits are two of the main reasons why younger people are increasingly vulnerable to high blood sugar, while sedentary and highly stressful working conditions and the absence of recreation are exacerbating hypertension. Under the circumstances, it is time for the administration to draw up an emergency action plan to stem the pervasiveness of these two diseases in the country. There has to be an extensive campaign to make people aware of the long-term consequences of high-blood pressure and diabetes. Meanwhile, parents must play their part in keeping children away from fast foods, schools must ensure time for children to play and exercise, municipalities must provide recreation and park facilities for people to relax and exercise, and workplaces must prioritise the health of their workforce. Additionally, we feel it should be made mandatory for all employers, government or private, to have their employees undergo medical tests, at least lood pressure and blood sugar checks, at regular intervals.