Chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and hypertension have long been considered as diseases of the wealthy. However, a new study has suggested that the number of people in Bangladesh dying from chronic diseases has increased dramatically among the poorest households over a 24-year period.
The research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said, "The rate of people dying from chronic conditions between 1982 and 2005 fell among the richest 20% while rising dramatically among the poorest 20%."
The research team analyzed data collected in a health and demographic surveillance system in Matlab, Bangladesh from a population of about 225,000 people.
The study is believed to be the first long-term study of its kind. It also revealed that chronic disease can worsen poverty, underscoring the importance of including chronic disease prevention and management in strategies to alleviate poverty.
Study leader David Peters, professor and chair of the department of international health at the Bloomberg School, said, "Our study is the first moving picture of the epidemiologic transition that is occurring in low-and middle-income countries. Instead of a single snapshot, we were able to track changes in the same population over the course of two decades."
Peters further added, "As life expectancy increases around the world, other countries will likely experience a shifting burden of chronic diseases, with poorer households spending disproportionate amount of their income on health care costs than better-off households. While the proportions of people dying from chronic diseases are rising across all groups, the poor are suffering disproportionately."
The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.