There is a paucity of data regarding prevalence of NCD risk factors in Bangladesh. In a WHO sponsored study in 2005 conducted in ten surveillance sites of an NGO spread all over the country, it was found that the prevalence of smoking was quite high among men (60%) while consumption of alcohol very low (2.9%). The prevalence of hypertension was 9.3%. Consumption of vegetables was very common and frequent, regardless of the socio-economic condition, although fruit consumption was very low and essentially seasonal. Nearly 41% were involved in vigorous, and about 61% moderate, intensity physical activities. Overweight (6.7%) and obesity (0.7%) among adults were higher among women than men. A substantial proportion (70%) of these largely rural populations had three or more risk factors, the NCD risk factors clustering being associated with increasing age, being male, and higher educational achievements. Evidence from both developed and developing countries shows that a comprehensive, PHC─based preventive programme has the potential to reduce risk factors and is the most cost-effective approach to contain the emerging epidemic of NCDs.
Unfortunately, Bangladesh’s health systems is not prepared to face the challenges posed by the NCDs. NCD is yet to find its right place in the list of health priorities for the country. Only recently there has been some progress in making related plans (Strategic Plan for Surveillance and Prevention of Non-communicable Diseases in Bangladesh, 2007–2010, National Strategic Plan of Action for Tobacco Control, 2007–2010, National Cancer Control Strategy and Plan of Action 2009–2015), but the implementation has been very slow due to lack of resources. There is yet to establish a nationwide, functional NCD surveillance system which is essential for monitoring the outcomes of the various plans and strategies. There is the need of training health workers in NCDs at PHC level; some treatment is available only at tertiary care level.