About four out of five people aged 60 and above suffer from chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, depression, and dementia in Bangladesh, according to an icddr,b study.
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 a common chronic disease. 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% of them visited private health facilities, 17% visited the government health facilities to seek care.
The average health expenditure in the past six months of these older people was Tk2,429.
Among the older participants, 30% were wage-earners, and they could afford the health expenses independently. Among those who do not earn their living, 4 out of 5 were dependent on the income of their children or savings, particularly the females. About 32% 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 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 non-communicable among older people.
He 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 at the 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 the United Kingdom participated in a panel discussion on improving old-age care in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
"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.