Experts say there is no alternative to strong tobacco-control laws to prevent cancer and other non-communicable diseases in Bangladesh.
"The incidence of cancer worldwide is expected to increase significantly by 2030. Tobacco, alcohol, various chemicals, pesticides, and adulterants can cause cancer to spread like an epidemic," said Dr Vishal Rao, an eminent Indian cancer specialist in a meeting with Health Secretary Lokman Hossain Miah on Monday.
To prevent this epidemic, concerted efforts and necessary steps must be taken from now onwards. The most important thing is to increase the price of tobacco products by raising taxes as recommended by the World Bank so that its use is reduced, and additional revenue is spent on cancer detection and treatment, he added.
The cancer specialist also said the sale and use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, must be banned within 100 yards of public places and educational institutions.
A delegation of Healthcare Global Enterprise (HCG) led by Dr Rao is visiting Bangladesh to exchange views with various governmental and non-governmental organisations in Bangladesh as part of awareness programmes in different countries at risk of cancer.
During the meeting, Health Secretary Lokman Hossain Mia said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced to make Bangladesh tobacco-free by 2040. The Ministry of Health is working to implement this declaration with utmost importance.
He said the process for amending the tobacco control laws has already started.
The HCG delegation also held a meeting with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on various aspects of cancer treatment and prevention in Bangladesh.
HCG has successfully performed an intricate robotic surgery, for the first time in Bangladesh, on a 45-year-old Bangladeshi woman suffering from tongue cancer.