Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers and chronic respiratory diseases are responsible for 67 percent of all deaths in Bangladesh, many of which are premature. Lack of physical activity fosters such non-communicable diseases.
Doctors say that inactivity is as harmful as smoking, so exercise is important. But a survey shows that 45 percent of the Bangladeshi districts have no sports or recreation fields where people can be physically active. This means that more people are becoming susceptible to these deadly diseases.
The survey, jointly conducted by Paribesh Bachao Andalan (POBA), ARC Foundation, Dhaka International University and Center for Law and Policy Affairs, was published on Tuesday in Dhaka.
"To meet the SDG targets, Bangladesh will have to decrease deaths by non-communicable diseases by 30 percent. However, there is no plan, no budget or legal framework yet to provide facilities for physical exercise," said the survey report.
The survey analysed data from sports organisations in 22 districts and 4 city corporations, and data from education offices in 10 districts.
The data showed that 45.45 percent of the districts do not have fields, 68 percent do not have parks, while only 3 out of 22 districts have walking facilities.
Out of 25 municipalities, only four have playing fields, 15 have parks and 2 have gyms.
Furthermore, 501 government primary and secondary schools, and 14 non-government schools in 10 districts do not have any playground.
The main article was presented at the press briefing by Sayed Mahbubul Alam, executive director of the Center for Law and Policy Affairs.
"A lot has been discussed about non-communicable diseases, but it does not get proper importance," said Mahbubul Alam. "There is no clear definition about which government organisation will look after sports and which will look after the fields."
"City corporations do not know which organisation will look after physical activities such as sports," he added.
POBA Chairman Abu Naser said "The scope for physical exercise has decreased because of urbanisation. Inadequate physical exercise will increase the chance of heart diseases, diabetes etc."
The Deputy General Secretary of POBA, Dr. Lelin Chowdhury said, "In the past, deaths from communicable diseases used to be quite high, but that has reduced now. However, deaths from non-communicable diseases are on the rise."
"While many countries have taken steps to handle non-communicable diseases, we are still far behind in this. That is why these diseases are on the increase here," he added.