The global and local context of non-communicable diseases

Non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular conditions and diabetes, are becoming increasingly important in low- and middle-income countries as populations age and adopt westernised lifestyles.

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are major killers worldwide, causing 36 million deaths every year, including 29 million in low- and middle-income countries. In South Asia, NCDs account for around half of annual mortality and burden of disease.

NCDs also pose a huge threat to development and economic growth. They will cost health systems globally an estimated US$30 trillion by 2030. NCDs disproportionately affect the underprivileged, impoverished families, and place a growing burden on health-care systems. The burden of NCDs is on the rise due to population ageing and an increase in unhealthy lifestyles.

The situation in Bangladesh

All major risk factors for NCDs are widespread in Bangladesh, including tobacco use, inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables, low physical activity, obesity and high blood pressure. NCDs are estimated to account for 59% of total deaths in Bangladesh.

In response to this growing threat, Bangladesh has developed a national strategy for surveillance and prevention of non-communicable diseases. A dedicated unit has been established within the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with new service delivery options being piloted.