Inside Health

New symptoms in dengue, increasing risk of death

Publish: 03:52 PM, 26 Oct, 2022


The number of dengue patients in the country every day and the panic among the common people is also increasing. Added to this are the new symptoms of dengue. The new symptoms seen in dengue patients this year are not similar to traditional dengue symptoms. These symptoms include diarrhea, pneumonia and headache. Due to these new symptoms, many patients are delaying coming to the hospital without realizing that they are infected with dengue. As a result, there is a risk of death due to delayed treatment. Many are dying after being hospitalized.

On Thursday (October 20), the Directorate General of Health Services reported the death of four people due to dengue. On this day, 896 people were admitted to the hospital due to dengue. With this, the number of patients admitted in various government and private hospitals in the country has reached 3 thousand 174 people. Apart from this, the number of dengue deaths has increased to 110 this year. Earlier on Wednesday, the Department of Health reported the death of seven people infected with dengue.

The dengue situation has suddenly worsened in the past few weeks. Infected patients are increasing in the hospital every day. As a result, the hospital authorities are struggling to provide treatment. Even by creating a separate ward for dengue patients, they are struggling to handle the pressure.

The 10th floor of the capital's Mugda General Hospital has been reserved only for dengue patients. The open area outside the ward also been declared as Dengue dedicated war. But still, many of the hospitalized patients are receiving treatment from the floor without getting a bed.

Mugda General Hospital has a separate ward for children. Two rooms of this ward have been declared dengue ward. But still there are patients on the balcony outside the ward.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health said that most of the dengue victims this year are over 20 years old. But 40-50 years old are dying more. Still, 35 percent of the patients who died were children, that is, those under the age of 18. Many of the affected patients are taken to the hospital late, as a result most of them are dying within three days of admission. This year there are more deaths outside Dhaka. Besides, the mortality rate of women is higher than that of men.

Dengue   Bangladesh  


Inside Health

Saima Wazed to assume office of WHO Regional Director today

Publish: 01:25 PM, 01 Feb, 2024


The newly elected Regional Director for South-East Asia of World Health Organization (WHO) Saima Wazed, a global mental health expert, will take office for the next five years today.

The member states voted to nominate Wazed to the post during a meeting at the 76th session of the WHO Regional Committee for the South-East Asia Region on January 1, 2024.

Later, her nomination was approved during the 154 session of the WHO Executive Board held on January 22-27 in Geneva, Switzerland, according to WHO sources.

Ms. Saima Wazed will replace Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the outgoing RD of South-East Asia Region of WHO. 

Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), India, Indonesia, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste took part in the voting in New Delhi. 

Wazed, a renowned autism expert, had secured eight votes. The other candidate, Dr Shambhu Prasad Acharya, nominated by Nepal, received two votes. 

Saima Wazed is the first from Bangladesh and the second woman Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia Region. 

She is the daughter of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and is globally famed for her role as a mental health expert-particularly autism. She is an advisor to the WHO's director-general for mental health.

With that, Saima Wazed will be the first Bangladeshi to hold the post created in 1948 as part of WHO's regional divisions.

She spearheaded the campaign for autism awareness in Bangladesh at a time when parents would hide their children with this neurodevelopmental disorder due to the social stigma attached to the developmental disability.

Ms Saima Wazed has a Bachelor degree from Barry University in Florida, USA, and holds a master's degree in clinical psychology. She is a candidate for a doctorate in Organizational Leadership from the same university.

Since 2019, she has been an Advisor to the WHO Director-General on Mental Health and Autism and has been a member of WHO's Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health since 2014.

Ms Wazed was designated Goodwill Ambassador for Autism in WHO South-East Asia in 2017. She co-authored WHO South-East Asia Regional Strategy on Autism Spectrum Disorder the same year.

She is an Associate Fellow at the Global Health Program Chatham House, UK, Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism and NDDs, Dhaka Bangladesh, and Chairperson of the Shuchona Foundation, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Ms Wazed was conferred 'Excellence in Public Health' award by WHO South-East Asia Regional Office in 2014, and Ibrahim Memorial Gold Medal in 2016 by the Dr Ibrahim Memorial Council, Bangladesh, for her work on autism and neurodevelopment disorders.

In 2017, Ms Wazed received International Champion Award from US organization Shema Kolainu for her work on autism in South-East Asia. In 2019, she was conferred Innovative Women Leaders in Global Mental Health award by the Global Mental Health Programs, Columbia University, USA. 


South-East Asia   WHO   Saima Wazed  


Inside Health

SEARO and the Future of Public Health

Publish: 08:45 AM, 01 Oct, 2023


Over the past few decades, the countries of WHO’s South East Asia region have made major strides in both clinical medicine and public health. They have benefitted from government commitment and the strong human resource capacity of healthcare and health-related personnel, many of whom have led a successful fight against TB, leprosy, polio, malaria, and other communicable diseases as well as maternal, newborn and child health that have long plagued the region. They have done this against a backdrop of massive rural-to-urban migration, the emergence of cities whose health and social services have been pushed to the limit, and epidemiological transition and the emergence of new lifestyles and associated health challenges.

So today, as the SEARO Region prepares for a new Regional Director, the demographic transition, impact on health of climate change, preparedness for future pandemic and most importantly it’s vast range of non-communicable diseases, that are now challenging governments and their ministries of health. Foremost among non-communicable diseases are a series of mental health problems associated with stigma, discrimination, marginalization and misunderstanding that in the past have been poorly addressed, and which now call for urgent attention. Throughout the world more work days are being lost as a result of a pandemic of mental health problems that are undermining family health and stability, eroding many of the gains that have been achieved in education and literacy, and placing demands on healthcare systems that have traditionally focused on communicable diseases and not kept pace with this new world of mental health challenge. Young people in the SEARO region are being threatened as never before, along with alarming suicide rates. All these were recognized at the last SEARO Regional Committee in Bhutan in 2022 WHO, when the member states of WHO adopted the Paro Declaration calling for new vision and commitment to mental health care and the development of services that focus on community participation and primary care that is not only delivered by doctors and nurses, but also by psychiatric social workers, and many other paramedical personnel who can be trained to take on this new and fast-growing problem. The Ministers of Health who came together to address this new challenge agreed that “…there can be no health without mental health” and they called for major investments to be made by governments and external partners in preventing and mitigating mental health problems in ways that reduce treatment costs and increase human productivity, employment and quality of life.

If the SEARO region and its Member States are to move forward and take up this dramatic emerging problem, it must do so with vision and a deep understanding of the world of mental health, psychosocial wellbeing, and the role of community and society in promoting and protecting mental health. This will not be simple or easy, but if it is not taken up just as the regions’ Ministers of Health asked for in their Paro Declaration, countries will find themselves faced with one of the most complex public health problem the region has ever seen, and health and socioeconomic development risks being stunted.

Whoever is selected to take SEARO and its Member States into the new future, must have a clear understanding of the challenge of mental health and a body of experience in the area of mental health prevention and management as well as negotiating power to bring wide range of experts together that can foster and work hand in hand with the region’s member states public health policy makers, healthcare workers and social sector resources in a new and exciting SEARO public health venture. These are qualities not easily come by, and at the time of writing this, Saima Wazed seems to bring the type of mental health background and experience as will needed drive, dedication and expertise.


Inside Health

Prof. Deen Mohd. Speaks at 38th APAO

Publish: 04:08 PM, 02 Mar, 2023


Prominent Eye Specialist Prof. Deen Mohd. Noorul Haq was invited as a speaker at the 38th congress of the Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology (APAO) help in Malaysia from 23–26 February 2023, where he delivered speech on “Universal Eye Health Coverage” The Bangladesh Perspective.

Mentioning that the Universal Health Coverage is a Priority for Bangladesh Prof. Deen Mohd. said, the government of Bangladesh is committed to recognizing all people’s rights to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights and the convention on the Rights of the child.

He also said that, these fundamental human rights could be established through universal health coverage (UHC), which would ensure that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.

Deen Mohd. said that, the Bangladesh Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW) delivers its services through Health Population and Nutrition Sector Program (HPNSP). National Eye Care (NEC) is one of the operational plans (OP) of the HPNSP and it follows the guidelines of the Bangladesh National Council for the Blind (BNCB).

Prof. Deen Mohd. Noorul Haq is known for his great contribution to Community Ophthalmology in Bangladesh. He received many awards for his contribution in his field. 


Inside Health

US sends experimental antibody, antiviral drug to Uganda for Ebola outbreak

Publish: 09:37 AM, 19 Oct, 2022


The United States sent Gilead Sciences' remdesivir and Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc's experimental Ebola antibody drug MBP134 to Uganda last week to help safeguard healthcare workers responding to an outbreak that has infected 60 people and killed 44, U.S. government sources told Reuters.

There are currently no proven vaccines or treatments for the Sudan species of Ebola, one of four known Ebola viruses to cause hemorrhagic fever in humans. The outbreak confirmed by the Ugandan health ministry on Sept. 20 is the largest of the Sudan species since 2000.

Uganda health minister Jane Ruth Aceng disclosed the U.S. shipments at a meeting of African region health officials last week in Kampala and said remdesivir, which has been widely used as a COVID-19 treatment, and an undisclosed monoclonal antibody had been given to healthcare workers.

Providing treatment that protects the lives of healthcare workers could be central to containing the outbreak, said Joel Montgomery, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's chief of the viral special pathogens branch and incident manager for the outbreak.

"If healthcare workers start to fall ill and die, it's going to negatively impact the response," said Montgomery, who had just returned from a trip to Uganda.

For instance, healthcare workers may be reluctant to assist in the response, he said in a phone interview.

The World Health Organization said in a statement the agency is working with partners in Uganda to set up the infrastructure for a clinical trial and is supporting use of the untested antivirals and monoclonal antibodies and will collect data on their efficacy.

A large outbreak of the Zaire species of Ebola in West Africa from 2014-2016 led to effective vaccines and treatment, but there are no proven treatments or vaccines for the Sudan species.

San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical received a $110 million contract from the U.S. government's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) on October 4 for advanced development and potential purchases of MBP134, a combination of monoclonal antibodies.

Gilead did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A study of MBP134 and remdesivir in non-human primates showed that either drug given individually rescued 20% of animals infected with the Sudan species of Ebola, but when given in combination, 80% of infected animals survived.

MBP134 is currently being tested in early safety trials in healthy human volunteers, Mapp President Larry Zeitlin said in an email. All participants have completed the study, and the data are currently being analyzed. Overall, MBP134 was well tolerated, he said.

Zeitlin said when requested, the company does provide its drug for free for compassionate use, pending regulatory and ethics approvals. He declined to say how many doses the company provided.

- Reuters

Ebola outbreak   Ebola   Uganda  


Inside Health

World Sight Day Today #LoveYourEyes

Publish: 10:00 AM, 13 Oct, 2022


Shakespeare said, “Eyes are the window to your soul”. With lights passing through touching our cornea we see the beauty and the wonders of our nature, watch the setting sun, experience the glory of the world. With eyes we not only see, we feel. When words fail, eyes speak. Our vision is our most important sense as it drives our perception. This resembles that eyes are the most important and delicate organ of our body and therefore, it becomes imperative to protect our eyes and ensure their healthy functioning.

Today is the 'World Sight Day'. Every year, World Sight Day (WSD) is observed on the second Thursday of October. The day marks as an opportunity to raise awareness about retinal diseases and showcase the commitment to support the millions of people nationwide living with preventable vision loss. The theme for this year's World Sight day is #LoveYourEyes.

Our vision is the most powerful sense of ours but it is also among the first sense organs to become ill and damaged as we age, lead unhealthy lifestyles. And as we have become more dependent on our smartphone and computer especially children, we should also take extra care of our eye to prevent any type of retinal disease.

Globally, at least 1 billion people have near or distance vision impairment that could be prevented or has yet to be addressed. Vision impairment affects people of all ages, with the majority being over the age of 50. Vision impairment and blindness can have major and long-lasting effects on all aspects of life, including daily personal activities, interacting with the community, school and work opportunities and the ability to access public services.

There are 5 very effective ways of taking care of eyes.

1) Take Frequent Breaks from the Screens

To the technological era we live in, it has become very common and sometimes necessary to spend a huge amount of hours in front of monitors, TVs and cell phones. The constant exposure to screens, be it the laptop, smartphones, tabs or television, etc., leads to unnecessary strain on our eyes. It is best to take frequent breaks when reading or working on a computer screen. One must look away and focus on objects in the distance for good eye health.

2) Use Eye drops

Staring at screens for too long results it strained dry eyes. The best way to overcome this problem is to use a hydrating eye drop to cool, hydrate and nourish the eyes. Just as one shoe doesn’t fit all, one eye drop isn’t useful for everyone, so consult your ophthalmologist before you squirt anything in your eyes in the hope that it’s doing you good. Also, always check the expiry date of products before using them.

3) Get Regular Eye Check-ups

It is advised that you get an eye check-up at least once in six months. Eye strain, dry eyes, and other similar disorders can lead to severe ailments if they aren’t cured on time.  Consult your doctor once in six months or if any of the following symptoms persist: irritation of the eye/eyes, foreign body sensation in the eye, stringy discharge, eye fatigue, heavy eyelids, red eyes, discomfort on wearing contact lenses, shorter bearable spans of reading, working on computers, etc.

4) Consumption of a Balanced Diet

Our eyes need to be cared for both externally as well as internally. Intake of a diet containing all the essential nutrients in proper quantities is important for maintaining optimum optic health. While eye problems associated with old age such as cataracts and glaucoma cannot be eliminated completely, taking adequate quantities of nutrients such as zinc, Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C and vitamin E help reduce the chances of old age-related vision problems. Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale and sources of protein such as chicken and soybean are superfoods that maintain healthy eyesight. A balanced diet also ensures a healthy body weight which is essential for keeping obesity at bay. Obesity is a common cause of Type 2 diabetes which is often responsible for rendering patients blind. 

5) Give Up Smoking

Smoking cigarettes is a leading cause of eyesight problems such as Macular Degeneration and Cataracts. The toxins inhaled while smoking are extremely detrimental to optic health. To let the optic nerves function efficiently, it is absolutely essential to give up smoking as it causes damage to it.

People do not take eye problems seriously in Bangladesh. Lack of general knowledge and ignorance about proper eye care is the cause of blindness for many people. Emphasis on eye care and services is essential now. A little awareness, early detection and treatment can prevent blindness. There are some patients in Bangladesh who do not understand that they are suffering from eye problems. As a result, due to lack of proper treatment at the right time, the number of people suffering eye illness, blindness is increasing day by day. 80% of blindness can be eliminated if treated and operated on time and eye problems need to be identified at an early stage through regular health checkups along with raising awareness. In addition, there is a need to take various initiatives by the government and the private sector to eliminate and prevent blindness in Bangladesh.

Another thing to mention is that the eye treatment is being disrupted due to shortage of ophthalmologists in Bangladesh. Many eye operations are not possible in our country due to lack of good doctors, which is our biggest failure. Apart from this, people's reluctance to donate cornea in the country is also holding back our medical system. And there is a lack of public awareness. We should create mass awareness all over the country, so that we can reduce blindness and eye disease. 

Bangla Insider organized a discussion meeting on the occasion on World Sight Day. Where the speaker said that, “Bangladesh has now reached the world standard in eye treatment.” They said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh has made remarkable achievements in eye care. They expressed hope that blindness is curable and preventable in Bangladesh and the Institute of Ophthalmology and the Ministry of Health are working towards that goal.

Former advisor to the Prime Minister, President of Community Clinic Support Trust and Chairman of BMRC Dr. Syed Modasser Ali participated in the discussion program along with former Director General of Health Department and internationally renowned ophthalmologist Professor Dr. Deen Mohammad Noorul Haque and Life Director of National Institute of Ophthalmology Professor Dr. Golam Mostafa. The program was moderated by Syed Borhan Kabir.  Watch the full video on Bangla Insider's YouTube channel.