Cancer and respiratory diseases are the top two killers in Bangladesh, with two being responsible for about 25% of all deaths in the country. The prevalence of respiratory diseases in the country is an indication of the high air pollution levels in Bangladesh, which are among the highest in East Asia. Other leading causes of death in the Asian country include cirrhosis, neonatal encephalopathy, diabetes, and stroke. The health sector in Bangladesh has been trying to contain these diseases for years, but the deficiency of skilled health workers has hindered attempts to alleviate the situation.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Bangladesh where 13% of all deaths are attributed to cancer. Lung cancer and oral cancer are the two most common cancers in Bangladeshi men while cervical cancer and breast cancer are the most common in women. Cancer deaths in Bangladesh are forecasted to have an upward trajectory in the future. The reason behind this forecast is the fact that the country’s health sector has a severe shortage of the necessary cancer-fighting equipment and skills including oncologists, radiation therapists, radiation machines, and even hospital beds. Nonetheless, Bangladesh has established the National Cancer Control Strategy and Action Plan whose primary function is fighting cancer in the country.
Lower Respiratory Infections
An estimated 7% of all deaths in Bangladesh are caused by lower respiratory infections, making it the second leading cause of mortality in the country. The mortality rate is higher in the rural areas of the country where health services are not as easily accessible as in the urban areas. Parents also find it hard to take their children for health checkups where lower respiratory infections can be diagnosed in their early stages. The respiratory infections are also linked to about 28% of all deaths in children.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Another leading cause of death in Bangladesh is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a collective term for ailments that affect the lungs. Such diseases include emphysema and bronchitis. Also known by its acronym COPD, the disease is linked to an estimated 7% of all deaths in Bangladesh. More than 1,000 people die from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease each year in Bangladesh. The prominence of lung diseases as one of the top causes of mortality in the country show the level of air pollution in the country. Despite having one of the largest forests covers in the world, air pollution in Bangladesh is among the worst of any country.
Ischemic Heart Disease
The exact cause of the Ischemic Heart Disease is largely unknown with some scientists claiming that it is genetic. Symptoms of the disease include shortness of breath and chest pains and can lead to death. The disease is the collective term for diseases affecting the coronary arteries and includes unstable and stable angina and myocardial infarction. Also known as coronary artery disease, the disease is a leading cause of mortality in Bangladesh where about 6% of all deaths are attributed to the disease.
Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of stroke in Asia, with an estimated 21.5% of all Bangladeshis having suffered strokes. Strokes are also among the deadliest diseases in the Asian country and are attributed to 5% of all deaths in Bangladesh. The risk factors that are linked to stroke include cigarette smoking, unhealthy eating habits, and air pollution, both of which are high in the country. Nonetheless, the mortality rate attributed to stroke has recorded a decline in recent years after the Bangladeshi government invested heavily in containing the risk factors associated with stroke and sensitized its citizens to shun unhealthy lifestyle.
Preterm Birth Complications
Preterm birth complications are another top cause of death in Bangladesh. These complications are linked to 4% of all deaths in the country. The condition is also the leading cause of neonatal deaths in Bangladesh, causing 88% of all neonatal deaths in the country. The preterm birth complications are also linked to most health defects in children including motor problems, blindness, and cerebral palsy. The Bangladeshi government has been trying to contain the deaths linked to preterm birth complications since more than 50% of the deaths could be contained through preventative health interventions.
The World Health Organization classifies Bangladesh as a “High TB Burden Country” due to the prevalence of tuberculosis in the country. The disease is responsible for 3% of all deaths in the country. Statistics from the World Health Organization shows that there are about 0.362 million new tuberculosis cases reported in Bangladesh each year. 225 out of 1 million people get infected with tuberculosis in the country annually, and an estimated 45 out of 1 million Bangladeshis die from the disease each year.
Another leading cause of death in Bangladesh is neonatal encephalopathy. The disease is linked to an estimated 3% of all deaths in the Asian nation. Neonatal encephalopathy affects newborn infants with the symptoms being manifested a few days after birth. The most common symptom that suggests neonatal encephalopathy are seizures observed in an infant within the first few hours of life. Birth asphyxia is the most common cause of neonatal encephalopathy. The high rate of neonatal encephalopathy among infants in Bangladesh is caused by the lack of proper maternity services in the country which has a shortage of health facilities.
Diabetes is linked to an estimated 3% of all deaths in Bangladesh, making the disease one of the top causes of mortality in the Asian country. Interestingly, the rate of diabetes cases in Bangladesh recorded a dramatic increase in the early 21st Century prompting health officials to come up with measures to contain the spread of the disease. Diabetes has now become one of the biggest health concerns in Bangladesh.
Cirrhosis is another leading cause of death in Bangladesh, with the disease being responsible for about 3% of all deaths in the country. Studies have shown that the prevalence of cirrhosis among Bangladeshis is not an indicator of the alcoholism levels in the country. As much as 92% of all cirrhosis cases recorded in the country are non-alcoholic. Instead, the most probable cause of cirrhosis rates in the country is aetiological factors such as poor nutrition.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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