Mamata Begum (53), a resident of Monipuripara in the capital, failed to undergo a dialysis session for a week, amid rising inflation.
She was doing regular dialysis two days a week for six years. Having missed the crucial weekly session, her body started retaining excess water.
Mamata's husband, a school teacher, is now at a loss for how to pay for the household, the children's education, and his wife's medical expenses.
Mamata is now forced to do dialysis once a week and then stop for the next week or two.
"If I can't do dialysis for several weeks in a row, I can't move. Then I have to borrow money and do dialysis again. I don't know how long this will continue."
Elsewhere, Kutub Uddin, a private job holder, is at his wit's end wondering how to pay for his household and the medical costs of his wife and mother.
With a salary of around Tk50,000, Kutub decided to leave his rented Dhaka flat and live in a mess to further cut costs.
Speaking to The Business Standard, he said, "I'm planning to delay the treatment of my wife and mother as I have failed to manage the money for that. Despite enjoying an increment, I had to adjust it to increasing expenditure."
Due to rising commodity prices, most people like Mamata Begum and Kutub Uddin are being forced to battle diseases without treatment.
In Bangladesh, people have to pay 68.50% of their total treatment costs out of pocket. But inflation has meant that meeting this amount is harder than ever.
Around 24% of people in the country spend 10% of their entire family income on medical expenses. And more than 6% of people spend more than 25% of their family income on treatment, according to the World Health Organization's World Health Statistics 2022 data published on 20 May.
Experts believe that ignoring or delaying treatment can lead to untimely death. The only way out, they say, is to implement a health safety system, increase the social safety net and introduce health insurance.
Dr Syed Abdul Hamid, professor at the Institute of Health Economics, Dhaka University, told TBS that as the prices of goods have gone up a lot, people are reducing food expenditure if they need health care.
"This is causing malnutrition. Again, if the spending on food is not reduced, the treatment is being delayed."
Syed Abdul Hamid said now the services available in the upazila and district hospitals and medical colleges have to be implemented, then the cost to the people will be less.
In addition, health insurance should be provided for long-term treatment costs, including cancer and kidney disease. The amount of money (old age or widow allowance) of the social safety net program should be increased so that people can get health care, he suggested.
Dr Ahmed Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, convener of the Bangladesh Health Watch, told TBS that an increase in budgetary allocations for medicines and primary healthcare may help to reduce the burden of treatment costs on the people.
The healthcare situation has been worsening due to inflation, said Dr Md Abdul Aziz, lawmaker, and member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, adding that health insurance had been introduced in some areas on a trial basis and plans were in place to spread it across the country.