In a bid to create awareness about health among people, the fourth People's Health Assembly began at Brac-CDM in Savar outside the capital yesterday.
Bangladesh chapter of People's Health Movement -- a global network of grassroots health activists, civil society organisations and academic institutions -- organised the four-day programme themed “Health for All Now”.
National Professor Brig (retd) Abdul Malik was present as the chief guest during the inaugural session chaired by Brac Chairman Sir Fazle Hasan Abed.
Hossain Zillur Rahman, former adviser to a caretaker government; and Fran Baum from Australia were present as special guests.
Abdul Malik, in his speech, said with the development of science and technology people's lifestyle has changed.
However, such a change is affecting human health due to excessive use of smart phone, environmental pollution, and climate change, he said.
These cause non communicable diseases such as heart and respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes, he said. In this regard, he also blamed consumption of tobacco.
Without eliminating these diseases, it will not be possible to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs), he said.
Citing a recent WHO report, he said, 67 percent of people die from non communicable diseases in Bangladesh.
Among those, 30 percent died due to cardiovascular diseases, 12 percent due to cancer, 10 percent due to lung diseases, 3 percent from diabetes and 12 percent from others diseases, he added.
In his speech, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed said political initiative is very important to ensure public healthcare.
If one looks back at history, they will see how political opportunities shaped the radical transformation of the traditional health system onto a pro-poor path, he said.
For instance, the post World War II political scenario was instrumental in advancing universal health coverage in Europe particularly in the UK and Germany, he added.
Bangladeshis are going to cast their votes next month. Now it is time for the political parties to take health issues as their top agenda.
Specific actions have to be included in their election manifestos to achieve universal health coverage following the SDGs' guiding principle of “Leave no one behind”.
Around 1,500 representatives from 80 countries including the USA, Australia, UK, Brazil, India and Japan took part in the event that will continue till Monday.
The assembly was scheduled to begin on November 15 at Gonoshasthaya Kendra's PHA Bhaban in Savar but the venue was changed due to security reasons.