Three out of four individuals in Bangladesh have a risk of developing cardiac diseases that could otherwise have been prevented by simple means, and hypertension is one such risk, said a policy forumon.

The policy forum on Hypertension and Cardio-Metabolic Diseases in Colombo saw government ministers, policymakers, economists, researchers and global health professionals at a single table; Dr. Harsha de Silva, State Minister for National Policies & Economic Affairs of Sri Lanka, officiated the half-day forum, reports UNB. 


Hypertension is the leading cause of cardiovascular and kidney diseases and over 1.5 billion are expected to be affected by hypertension by 2025; the case being especially adverse in South Asia given that the prevalence of hypertension is already at 40 percent.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one out of three adults over 35 years has hypertension, but half of them are not aware of it, according to a message received from the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (icddr,b).

Dr Aliya Naheed, Head of Initiative for Non-communicable Diseases of the icddr,b; Dr Abdul Alim, Deputy Program Manager of Non-Communicable Disease Control (NCDC) Program; and Prof Dr SM Mustafa Zaman, Secretary General, Association of Physicians of Bangladesh, represented Bangladesh at the policy forum.

Tazeen Jafar from Duke-NUS' Health Services & Systems Research and overall lead investigator of the multi-country Control of Blood Pressure and Risk Attenuation – Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka (COBRA-BPS) study co-hosted the Forum and shared, "Up to three out of four adults with hypertension in South Asia have poorly controlled blood pressure, and one-third have co-existing diabetes."

This is very concerning as complications like heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease; tend to manifest 5-7 years earlier in South Asians than in Caucasian European populations.


COBRA-BPS study is evaluating novel, low-cost solutions for hypertension control and cardiovascular risk reduction in primary healthcare systems in rural communities in South Asia; and enhancing the scalability of the COBRA strategy in Bangladesh is quite feasible.

High-level officials from DGHS and policymakers in Bangladesh showed their enthusiasm for the COBRA strategy as it is fully aligned with the operational plan of the 4th Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Program (2017-2022). 

Dr Naheed, country principal investigator for the COBRA-BPS study in Bangladesh, said, "The beauty of COBRA-BPS strategy is that it was adapted into the existing government health system and the implementation of the interventions was driven by grassroots-level community health-workers and physicians in primary health care facilities."

Prof Draman said hypertension and diabetes are conditions that, once diagnosed, need lifelong treatment; otherwise patients may end up with disability or even death.

Dr Sania Nishtar, co-chair of WHO (World Health Organisation) Independent Commission on the UN High-Level Meeting on Prevention and Control of NCDs, underscored the need for universal health access to include hypertension and diabetes care for all segments of the population.