About four out of five older people (60 years and above) suffer from chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, depression, and dementia in Bangladesh, says a new study.
The findings were 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 nationwide study reveals that one out of every two older people has a common chronic disease. Additionally, it finds older females suffer more (54 per cent) than older males (37 per cent).
The study also reveals that one out of every three (35 per cent) older people have visited local drug stores in the last six months, while 36 per cent of them visited private health facilities, 17 per cent visited government health facilities to seek care.
The average expenditure on health in the past six months of these older people was Tk 2,429 (29 USD).
Among the older participants, 30 per cent 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 per cent of older people are receiving financial support, mostly aged allowance, it added.
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 per cent 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, said she.
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.
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 organisations 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.