Ensuring healthy longevity for decent Bangladesh

7 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

How much people are affected by cancer in Bangladesh? Is there any relationship between poverty and healthcare in Bangladesh? What are the rising inequality factors in the health sector? These information are available in a recently published book “In Search of a Transition from the Virus-Driven Great Disaster to a Decent Bangladesh: On the Larger Canvas of Society-Economy-State” written by economist Prof. Dr. Abul Barkat.

Theory of Decent Life System

The theory of a "Decent life system" is based on a democratic state system, which puts loyalty to nature at the front position; all socio-economic and political foundations should be built on the basis of the influence of nature. In general, it is probably new concept of socio-economic science. There are three foundational component of this concept.

Social foundational component is knowledge rich, free thinking and creativity promoting; solidarity rich; secular; free from all forms of superstitions; rational human behaviours; human welfare oriented science.

Economic foundational component includes people’s ownership on natural resources; social ownership on production; filthy rich less; share and market less system. Political foundational component includes democracy, lord less state system, social justice, community administration and people’s responsibility to protect motherland.

The fundamental objectives of the theory of decent society are accelerating the process of human enlightenment; creativity promoting knowledge system; instilling high sense of solidarity; process of making human rationality rise up; making people free from all forms of inequality; free from rent seeker; making the state of 100 per cent peoples’ ownership and master less civic governance.

Abul Barkat presents 11 principles to renovate decent Bangladesh from Covid-19 impacts.

1. We want development-welfare-progression, but the development should be nature-environment oriented;

2. We need economic growth. We don’t need environmentally harmful, socially unjustified, human resource destructive growth;

3. Growth should be inequality reducing;

4. Growth must be employment-creation oriented;

5. Per capita income or growth of domestic product is not development. It must ensure healthy life of women-children-old-marginal-poor-deprived-isolated people;

6. We want to transform the power of youth to real resources;

7. We want positive social impact;

8. People’s ownership on natural resources (land, water body, forest, space resources, coal, gas and mineral) on behalf of nature;

9. We want to uphold human security and equal opportunity for development of state-society-economy;

10. Promote inequality reduced home grown development philosophy;

11. We want to extract the taste of global economic opportunities.

State of Public Health and Decent Bangladesh

 In general, for human progress and development, three conditions are important—

1. Ensure healthy longevity,

2. Enlighten human beings and

3. Permanent increase in real income.

Prof. Abul Barkat deeply analyses the health inequalities (health outcomes, health seeking behaviour, economic burden of ill health). He mentions different dimensions of health – physical health, mental health, emotional health, intellectual health, social health, spiritual health and environmental health and their interconnection.

The relationship between social and environmental health sometimes affect our physical (cardiovascular, respiratory, reproductive and nervous system) and mental health (feelings, behaviour, and psychological challenges of life). Eminent economist Abul Barkat estimates the healthcare status in Bangladesh. Out of 170 million people, 80 million people are deprived of access to primary healthcare; every year 50 per cent children die out of 9 lakh; 70 million people are deprived of access to pure potable drinking water; 50 per cent people suffer from hypertension; 10 per cent people are diabetic in Bangladesh; 14 per cent affected from chronic kidney diseases; 18-20 lakh people suffer from hearing disorders; 1.5 crore people suffer from thyroid problems; 1.7 million people suffer from cancer; 23 lakh women are affected by breast cancer; 2.5 to 3 crore people suffer osteoarthritis and 1.5 crore people are affected by COPD Asthma. 

Public healthcare must be seen as real public welfare and accordingly should be addressed by the State. This is an issue of compliance with the Constitutional rights. The government must see investing in people’s health as not just a social sector investment but an investment towards accelerated economic development and poverty eradication. This is an issue of respecting people’s life and dignity with fully informed concern and commitment. The people – especially the poor and marginalised people – must know about their health rights and must be adequately empowered to exercise and assert those rights. This is an issue of people’s conscientization.


Sustainable development goals include good health and wellbeing for all by 2030. We need proper strategies, financial support and public participation to achieve this goal. To ensure health facilities for all, Dr. Barkat suggests forming a 'Health Protection Department' and to allocate as much as Tk 40,000 crore for it.


Shishir Reza, Environmental Analyst &

Associate Member, Bangladesh Economic Association.