A Policy Dialogue on ‘Strategies for Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases in Bangladesh’ was held on Monday, 19 September, 2016, at the IEDCR auditorium, Dhaka. European Union supported ‘SHARE’ (Strengthening Health, Applying Research Evidence) project of icddr,b in collaboration with Non-communicable Disease Control Programme of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS)organized the event. The objective of this dialogue was to identify the gaps and opportunities in the health systems to strengthen the services for prevention of non-communicable diseases in Bangladesh. Prof. Dr. Abul Kalam Azad, Director General of DGHS attended the event as the Chief Guest and Dr. Omar Ali Sarker, WHO Bangladesh Programme Manager, NCDC, DGHS chaired the session. Dr. Mostafa Zaman, National NCD Coordinator, WHO Bangladesh was present as the special guest. Prof. M A Faiz, ex-DG, DGHS and Consultant, PIP, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare moderated the event and delivered a presentation on ‘Strategies for Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases’ following a presentation by Dr. Aliya Naheed, Head, Initiative for Non Communicable Diseases, icddr,b on ‘Overview of the current scenario of NCDs. Dr. Sohana Shafique, Deputy Project Coordinator of icddr,b conducted the session as Master of Ceremony.
Dr. Tanveer Ahmed Choudhury, Programme Manager, NCDC, DGHS welcomed the participants to the policy dialogue. Prof. Dr. Abul Kalam Azad inaugurated the opening session and said how he prioritized NCDs in his first hundred days plan after resuming his position as DG. Referring to huge economic burden due to NCDs, he mentioned primary health care (PHC) as the main area to address NCDs prevention.
National experts from WHO, NIPSOM,BSMMMU, icddr,b, IEDCR, Dhaka Medical College, National Heart Foundation & Research Institute, National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, Sylhet Osmani Medical College, Shaheed Ziaur Rahman Medical College, Shaheed Sahrawardee Medical College, Rangpur Community Medical College and senior representatives from DGHS participated in the policy dialogue. Key presentations highlighted how NCDs are responsible for a considerable portion of the mortality in
Bangladesh and globally. Discussants of the policy dialogue talked about existing health programmes related to NCDs in Bangladesh and recommended key priorities to help sector plan address the NCDs burden. They gave importance of having nationally representative surveillance data about the prevalence of NCDs and associated risk factors. Going forward, sector programme might benefit through strengthening community level awareness activities on healthy life style and healthy diet towards successful transitioning to behavior change for prevention of NCDs. Joint efforts of government and NGOs to strengthen community level and policy level advocacy was discussed in the dialogue.
Policy dialogue recommends upazila, union and community level health facilities to be well-equipped for NCDs screening and risks factors identification. Another good suggestion stemmed from discussion is selecting an upazila for risks factors analysis and evidence generation which will guide sector plan towards evidence-informed health policy making on NCDs. Dr. Aliya Naheed pinpointed on unifying record keeping system, effective referral systems and sharing of best practices on NCDs prevention. Dr. A.M. Zakir Hussain, Senior Consultant and ex-Line Director of Primary Health Care, DGHS stressed importance on policy leadership and commitment for tackling NCDs situation which is creating economic burden on national economy. He also talked about job specification to organize health service delivery in NCDs prevention and treatment. Issues of awareness rising on NCDs through schools, medical professionals,
community outreach health promoters, religious leaders and traditional campaign programmes came into discussion predominantly. Dr. Iqbal Anwar, Scientist and SHARE Project Director of icddr,b talked about inter-sectoral coordination to address health problems like NCDs and shared recent experience and learning from visiting community level NCDs prevention programme in Myanmar.
Prof. M A Faiz summarized the key recommendations and hoped that this policy discussion would benefit upcoming sector plan.