Non communicable diseases: unleashing the Frankenstein | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 24, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 24, 2017

Non communicable diseases: unleashing the Frankenstein

Non communicable diseases (NCDs) are fast outnumbering their counterpart, the communicable diseases. The issue is hot on the heels. NCDs are the gift of the modern life and technology. Previously considered a genre for the nouveau riche and elites, now turning the table, NCDs are taking its toll on the low and middle income countries capturing 80% of all deaths.

What is non communicable disease? Subscribing to its nom de guerre, it simply stands for not being communicable. They neither are not infectious, contagious nor caused by microorganisms. They do not spread from one person to another, whatever virulence they might contain. No virus, bacteria, fungus or parasites are implicated though some cases may startup as being infectious then ending up to non communicable and chronic diseases. The classical example is streptococcal sore throat leading to rheumatic heart disease or glomerulo-nephritis.

The top notched list of NCDs will include: cancer, diabetes mellitus, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), hypertension, stroke, renal failure. COPD caused 3.2 million deaths worldwide in 2015.

0.4 million deaths occur worldwide per year due to asthma. About 15 lakh cancer patients are and 2 lakh new cases are being diagnosed every year in Bangladesh. 2 crore people suffer from kidney diseases globally and 30,000 die from renal failure every day, 40,000 reaching end stage kidney diseases.

The saga does not end here. 68% of the total deaths of 38 million every year, goes to the account of NCDs. Tobacco takes 5 million, overweight 2.8 million, cholesterol 2.6 million, hypertension 7.5 million lives every year. Who is going to bell the cat?  Well, a joint and a concerted programme vertically by the government, NGOs, World Bank and transversely by communities and medical profession coming to the forte, can hold the fort.

Prevention is better than cure. All efforts, attentions, resolutions, researches, funding must be targeted at prevention to address the challenges of NCDs. Doctors have no panacea. Prof. Mohammad Ibrahim, founder of Diabetic Association of Bangladesh had established the truth that if the government could spend one taka against the prevention of a case of diabetic, the government could save thirty seven taka for each case of diabetes.

These days, almost all the concerned authorities are making a clarion call to launch a universal campaign on  balanced healthy diet, physical activity, minimum six to seven hours of sleep, routine work schedule, avoidance of worries and anxieties, tobacco, alcohol with engagement in meditation.

Wisdom loomed large, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bangladesh has included meditation in the syllabus of the MBBS course. It is inspiring that global attitudes are also changing. When Dr Dean Ornish, one of the greatest cardiac interventionist of USA, advocated his new approach in alleviating cardiac diseases without intervention, New York Times emblazoned the with a cover page, “Can this man save our heart?”.

Now his school is worshipped not only in the USA but beyond. Dr Benson Herbert is another superstar who has become immortal propagating his prescription of relaxation, diet and exercise. Arthur Rubenstein, a celebrated pianist who lived to 98 years, recounted, “If you love life, life will love you back.”

E-mail: samara1985@hotmail.com

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