Four out of five older people suffer from one or more chronic diseases: icddr,b study
Dhaka 01 October 2021 :
In a webinar held in observance of the ‘International Day of Older Persons 2021’, researchers and public health specialists appeal to strengthen old age care and improve related research to control noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
In Bangladesh, about four out of five older (60 years and above) people suffer from chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, depression, and dementia. The research findings have been shared in a webinar in observance of the ‘International Day of Older Person 2021’ by Dr Aliya Naheed, Scientist and Head of Initiative for Noncommunicable Diseases at icddr,b. The study conducted nationwide reveals that one out of every two older people has at least two or more chronic diseases. Additionally, it finds older females suffer more (54%) than older males (37%).
The study also reveals that one out of every three (35%) older people have visited local drug stores in the last six months, while 36 percent of them visited private health facilities, 17 percent visited the government health facilities to seek care. The average health expenditure in the past six months of these older people was 2,429 BDT (29 USD, conversion done at the rate of 1 USD = 84 BDT). Among the older participants, 30 percent were wage-earner, and they could afford the health expenses independently. Among those who do not earn their living, 4 out of 5 were dependant on the income of their children or savings, particularly the females. About 32 percent of older people are receiving financial support, mostly aged allowance.
Dr Aliya Naheed, Principal Investigator of this study, said, “We have surveyed 2,795 older people across the country and found an alarming picture about the health status of the older people in Bangladesh. According to the national population and housing census 2011, older people comprise 7.8% of the total population, which is predicted to be doubled by 2041. Thus, the government must ensure proper healthcare is easily accessible for older people and expand coverage of the safety-net services widely.” She has also emphasised on innovation and linking the young generation with the older people to strengthen the old age care services.
In a video message, Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, Executive Director at icddr,b highlighted the shifting pattern of diseases from communicable to noncommunicable among older people. He also said, “We should have more research and more collaboration to find out ways and means in tackling noncommunicable diseases, and the burden of diseases that are unique to people who are senior citizens.”
In the webinar, Dr Blossom Stephan, Professor of Neuroepidemiology and Global Ageing, Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, UK recommended developing a national plan, ensuring evidence-based practice, engaging older people, and developing partnerships with the relevant organizations to develop infrastructures for improving services for the older population.
Experts from Nepal, Bangladesh, and United Kingdom participated in a panel discussion on improving old-age care in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Professor Dr Mohammad Robed Amin, Line Director, Noncommunicable Disease Control Program of the Directorate General of Health Services, participated in the panel discussion and briefed about initiatives of the NCDC programmes that ensure NCD care in Bangladesh.
Professor Dr AKM Mosharraf Hossain, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Department of Respiratory Medicine, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Bangladesh, has discussed the challenges of multimorbidity care for older people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other panelists were Professor Dr Lochana Shreshtha, Vice President, Nepal Public Health Foundation; Dr Sunil Adhikari, Lecturer, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Nepal; and Professor Trudie Lang, Director of the Global Health Network, University of Oxford, UK. Professor Rajesh Nath Gongal, Vice-Chancellor of the Patan Academy of Health Science; Professor Dr Md. Zahid Hussain, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) of BSMMU; Dr Mahesh Maskey, Executive Chief of Nepal Public Health Foundation, also spoke at the event.
“A Global Innovation Hub for Multimorbidity Solutions”- a new platform for promoting South-South collaborations in NCD multimorbidity research was also launched at the webinar. Professor Daniel D Reidpath, Senior Director, Health Systems and Population Studies Division at icddr,b inaugurated the new platform. “The Global Innovation Hub for Multimorbidity Solutions” is a collaboration of icddr,b, BSMMU from Bangladesh, Nepal Public Health Foundation and Patan Academy of Health Sciences from Nepal, and the University of Oxford and the University of Nottingham from the United Kingdom.
Professor Reidpath chaired the webinar. Researchers, clinicians, academicians, development partners, students, journalists, youth-based organizations, telehealth service providers, and public health specialists from Bangladesh and abroad participated in the webinar. Participants recommended engaging multiple sectors with the health sector in controlling the multimorbidity of older people.
The webinar was organized by The Global Health Network Asia and the Clinical Research Platform, Bangladesh. The theme of the webinar was “Linking Youth to The Wise for Digital Equity and Care”.