Diabetes in BangladeshOn the right side of India, hundreds of glistening, picturesque rivers flow into the country of Bangladesh. At the same time, these majestic waterways nourish miles of leafy greenery that grow exotic fruit. However, although the nation appears to be a serene paradise, the rate of diabetes in Bangladesh grows rapidly and currently affects more than eight million citizens.

Diabetic Association of Bangladesh (BADAS)

Fortunately, the Diabetic Association of Bangladesh or Bangladesh Diabetic Somiti (BADAS) established in 1956 assists mostly lower-income individuals with the prevention, awareness and treatment of diabetes. BADAS helps reduce the prevalence of diabetes in three main ways:

  • Educating the healthcare sector on how to better treat diabetes during the coronavirus pandemic

  • Creating a study that organizes monthly community meetings and sending out weekly text messages on how to prevent and treat diabetes

  • Hosting an annual event for World Diabetes Day that offers free screenings, education and public awareness about the disease.


BADAS helped organize a study called DMagic in the Faridpur District in Bangladesh that ran from 2015 to 2018. The study placed villagers in one of the following groups: engaging in community meetings, receiving text messages about how to prevent and treat diabetes, or attending a standard doctor for diabetes prevention and treatment. After the study finalized in 2018, researchers discovered that villagers in the community meetings group lowered their rate of diabetes by 20.7% in comparison to those who went to a regular doctor. However, the text messages proved to not be as effective in reducing diabetes among the participants. Therefore, researchers plan to organize more community meetings about how to prevent and treat diabetes in other rural areas of Bangladesh.

Teaching the Healthcare Sector to Handle Diabetes During COVID-19

BADAS recently implemented a new model to help the healthcare sector to continue to provide quality care for diabetic patients during the coronavirus pandemic. Firstly, BADAS urged the clinics and hospitals to remain open and to continue to offer services to diabetic patients. Secondly, medical professionals needed to wear appropriate gear, sanitize often, screen all patients and look out for individuals with potential COVID-19 symptoms to prevent the transmission of the virus. Next, BADAS encouraged doctors to offer free telephone and video call consultations to their patients. Lastly, healthcare facilities needed to provide sufficient medicine and supplies for diabetic patients.

World Diabetes Day Event

BADAS hosts an annual event in the region of Dhaka on November 14 to acknowledge World Diabetes Day. At the event, medical professionals offered free screenings and educated the public about diabetes. Also, doctors hosted a question and answer session to clarify any concerns and misconceptions about the disease. Next, artists sculpted clay models of healthy and unhealthy foods in an attempt to reduce the rate of diabetes among citizens. Then, the local religious leaders came forward and offered a special prayer for the public and those dealing with diabetes in Bangladesh. Lastly, hundreds of participants walked around Dhaka and carried a banner to spread awareness about diabetes.

Diabetes threatens the lives of millions of Bangladeshi citizens, especially those living in poverty. Although the fight of eradicating diabetes in Bangladesh continues, BADAS teaches many of the most vulnerable in society how to better recognize and prevent the disease.

– Samantha Rodriguez-Silva
Photo: Flickr 

Healthcare in Bangladesh
Healthcare in Bangladesh is not as sophisticated as in more developed countries; however, the country is working to improve and provide further funding to its healthcare system. So far Bangladesh has made great strides in increasing healthcare access for its people, but there is still a long way to go. Here are seven important facts about healthcare in Bangladesh.

7 Facts About Healthcare in Bangladesh

  1. Bangladesh has a pluralistic healthcare system. This healthcare system is highly decentralized. As a result, it is regulated and controlled by for-profit companies, NGOs, the national government and international welfare organizations. This shared power has caused many problems, including unequal treatment programs between social classes. Even though the laws and overall system are spearheaded and steered by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, other organizations have considerable influence on the decision-making.
  2. There is a shortage of physicians, specialists and clinical equipment. In Bangladesh, the number of physicians per 10,000 people is only about 3.06, which is significantly low. The number of nurses per 10,000 people is even lower, standing at 1.07. Additionally, only 35% of health and clinical facilities in the country have more than 75% of sanctioned staff working and there is a 36% vacancy in sanctioned healthcare workers. There is also a 50% vacancy in alternative medicine providers. These numbers are one of the reasons that Bangladesh’s quality of healthcare is low compared to many other Asian countries.
  3. Non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of death in Bangladesh. Most deaths are caused by cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and malnutrition. There are almost no alcohol-related deaths due to alcohol consumption and sale being illegal in the country. A 2016 study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that tobacco usage has decreased for both men and women, with only 23% of the population using tobacco products. Obesity has remained low, rising slightly, but still only affected 2% of adolescents and 3% of the adult population. However, poor nutrition is still prevalent, leading to diabetes and high blood pressure.
  4. Most physicians and healthcare workers are concentrated in urban areas. Rural areas often do not have proper healthcare facilities. To remedy this, the national government has set up many government-funded hospitals in rural areas that provide cheaper treatment for rural citizens. However, these hospitals are often poorly funded, understaffed and overly crowded due to a limited number of healthcare options in rural areas.
  5. Enrollment in medical colleges and healthcare training facilities has increased. This will benefit the country by increasing the number of healthcare workers in proportion to the population. However, this is only a recent trend and these future healthcare workers must complete their education and training before being able to fully practice their professions. The HPNSDP (Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Program) have already begun drafting and implementing a plan to further increase the number of nurses and midwives through training and education facilities.
  6. Socioeconomic inequality affects healthcare in Bangladesh. One area this can be seen in is infant mortality. The infant mortality rate for the lowest income quintile is 35 deaths per 1000 births, while infant mortality for the highest income quintile is only 14 deaths per 1000 births. One of the main reasons for this inequality is that most poor Bangladeshis live in rural areas that do not have adequate hospital facilities. However, even in urban areas, socioeconomic inequality has a large impact. A person with more money is generally able to receive better healthcare than someone who is poorer and cannot afford certain treatments or services. This is due to the fact that the healthcare system is decentralized and partially run by for-profit healthcare and pharmaceutical companies.
  7. Limited government funding has led to high out-of-pocket payments. One of the other reasons poorer citizens in Bangladesh cannot afford certain treatments or services is high out-of-pocket costs. On average, Bangladeshi citizens must pay 63.3% of the total cost, while the government pays the rest. This system creates a significant financial burden for impoverished families, sometimes forcing them to either forego treatment or go into debt. To reduce this burden, the government must increase healthcare funding.

These seven facts about healthcare in Bangladesh illustrate some of the barriers that Bangladesh must overcome to provide high-quality healthcare across the nation. The Bangladeshi Government’s constitution upholds that all citizens will be provided with equal treatment, including in healthcare. To achieve this, the government needs to address the current inequality and continue to make healthcare a focus of its efforts.

Sadat Tashin
Photo: Flickr