Peru: Respiratory conditions

NCDs and Financial Resilience

In Bangladesh, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) account for 59% of annual deaths among the 160+ million people of the country. Due to lack of awareness, prevailing culture, and economic means, the importance of health monitoring is largely overlooked, and NCDs often progress to a stage where they become difficult and expensive to treat.

$15 a year could help towards building financial resilience for a person

Md. Sulaiman lives in Dhaka city. When he was young, he always dreamt of coming here, living his dreams and being part of the big time news that headline the national newspapers. Of course, life doesn't work that way. He is now a rickshaw puller, aged 55. He lives here alone in a slum, sharing a room with fellow rickshaw pullers and day labourers.

Sulaiman’s family lives in the village. A wife and 4 children altogether. 3 daughters and a son- born very late into their marriage. The wife works in a rice mill, the daughters have been married off, and the only son, the youngest, goes to college. They have high ambitions for the son who has shown promise in education. The wife lives with the son holding onto Sulaiman’s only properties- a small piece of land, a couple of goats and a number of chickens. In the extension of their land, they do little farming that doesn’t generate much for them.

Life would be easy for the three of them, with what they had. But the daughters remain regular customers. One of the daughters’ in-laws keep sending her and her children over for money almost every couple of months. And Sulaiman has no other option but to comply to the best of his ability. He can’t see his daughter beaten up and left into the abysses of misery. They’re trying and surviving.

The story is ordinary for a poor rural family up until now. But then one day it happens. Sulaiman’s wife passes out as she’s working in the mill. She has passed out before, and even saw a local quark who gave her an amulet and asked to stay away from the tamarind tree over their house.

The wife remains unconscious much longer this time, to the point that people almost gave up on her. In the end she was given some glucose that brought her back to sense. Sulaiman was informed and he got back home immediately.

He took his wife to the city and saw a good doctor in the city’s Govt. hospital. After doing all the tests, Sulaiman found out that his wife had heavily fluctuating blood pressure, high diabetes and some kind of heart disease, all of which needed life-long medication. Sulaiman lost a big part of all his savings to this medical expedition with his wife. And as he was holding onto the prescription outside a pharmacy and hearing about the monthly medical expenses his family would need to bear from now on, he went numb and didn’t know what would be next for himself and his family.

To sustain the enormous medical expenses every month, Sulaiman would need more than his current family income. His wife has been strictly prohibited by the doctors to do any exacting chores, let alone work in a rice mill anymore, which already put the family finances in a state of shock. All he has left is his earning from rickshaw pulling and little money that the goats and chickens generate. The medical bills are going to suffocate them to the point that they may end up choosing between the son’s education and the wife’s proper treatment, and even that may not be enough. While Sulaiman himself often feels deep pain in his stomach, he is afraid to see a doctor fearing more expenses it may entail.

This is the story for a vast majority of the country’s poor people. This community never gives a thought about their health until it’s too late and then they find themselves in lifelong financial trauma that causes damage in all aspects of their lives. Had these people taken any measures to tackle uncertain health situations of the future- measures like health monitoring and health advising- they would have had much easier time dealing with these non communicable diseases.

That is why our designed services, like health monitoring against the most popular forms of such diseases- monitoring BMI, blood oxygen, blood pressure, blood sugar etc. on a monthly basis- could go a long way in building financial resilience for a family. And the service is very much affordable even to the poor- 100 taka a month or 1200 taka (roughly 15 dollar) a year is the price of acquiring the service. It allows people to have better awareness of their health conditions and react much more timely and efficiently so that both the health and the financial crisis could be avoided.