The fourth International People’s Health Assembly began at Savar in Dhaka on Friday with a call for coordinated efforts to ensure primary healthcare for all.
People’s Health Movement, a platform for global health activists, organised the four-day PHA-4 at BRAC CDM in Savar, which would continue till 19 November.
National Professor Brig (rtd) Abdul Malik, while addressing the inaugural ceremony as the chief guest, said changes in lifestyle, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, excessive mental stress were leading to non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes and others.
Citing a recent report of World Health Organisation, he said 67 per cent people died from non-communicable diseases in Bangladesh, among them, 30 per cent due to cardiovascular diseases, 12 per cent due to cancers, 10 per cent due to lung diseases, 3 per cent due to diabetes and other 12 per cent.
People were ignorant and were not aware as to how the diseases occurred and they could not afford the treatment due to poverty, he said.
As the government alone could not solve the problems alone, Abdul Malik called on the political leaders, social workers, media personnel, professionals and intellectuals to work in a coordinate way to make people aware about the diseases.
In his speech, BRAC founder and chairperson Fazle Hasan Abed said around 800 million people globally spent 10 per cent of their total income on healthcare, and expenditure on health emergencies pushed a large number of poor families into destitution.
Universal health coverage was aiming to ensure access to essential, quality healthcare for all without much financial hardship, he said.
The government should adopt health policies in such a way that everybody could get healthcare from territory level to grassroots, said Power and Participation Research Centre Hossain Zillur Rahman.
Chaired by Fazle Hasan Abed, PHA-4 national coordinator and People’s Health Movement Bangladesh chairperson Zakir Hossain gave welcome speech.
The PHA-4 was being organised in a crucial moment while the world was failing to ensure healthcare for all and almost 100 millions of people were falling into extreme poverty each year because of healthcare expenditure, said Zakir Hossain.
The prime objective of this conference was to review and evaluate the policies and on-going processes that affect health and healthcare in global, regional and local levels, he said.
Around 1,300 delegates from home and abroad, comprising healthcare provider representatives, doctors and people’s health movement activists, were participating in the assembly.
The assembly includes special conferences, plenary and sub-plenary conferences, strategic discussion on various health-related issues, seminars, cultural programmes, screening documentaries and photo exhibition.
Bangladesh hosts the assembly for the second time while the first ever PHA was also held in Dhaka in 2000 where around 1,400 delegates from 75 countries attended it.
The second assembly was held in Cuenca, Ecuador, in 2005 while the third was in Cape Town of South Africa in July 2012.
The People’s Health Movement was formed following the 20th anniversary of the historic Alma-Ata primary health care declaration in 1978 where ministers from 134 countries, in collaboration with World Health Organisation and UNICEF, reached a commitment to ensure primary health care for all by the year 2000.
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