In recent years, the skyline of Bangladesh has transformed dramatically, bearing testament to its commendable infrastructural progress. Shimmering highways, Padma bridge, Karnaphuli tunnel, metro rail in Dhaka city, deep sea port in Matarbari, and expansive urban development depict a story of a country on the ascent. However, beneath this facade of advancement lurks an unsettling truth: while we've prioritized the building of structures, we've inadvertently neglected the health and well-being of our citizens, the very backbone of our nation.
The glaring disparities in health and nutrition are palpable. A significant portion of the Bangladeshi population, especially the middle-income group, struggles to secure adequate and nutritious food, an alarming predicament for a country poised to be a major player in the global arena. This major portion of population is in huge crisis while managing food, shelter and education for their kids.
Many of them have sent their families to the village being unable to manage the expenses of living in the city. This insufficiency isn't merely about ongoing economic crisis but is deeply intertwined with the safety, quality and efficient use of available resources.
Air, water, and soil, the triad of life sustenance, are facing severe contamination challenges. From unchecked emissions tainting our air to pollutants seeping into our water and soil, the environment we thrive in is under relentless assault.
Yet, why is this happening? A dual nexus of lax regulations and a profit-first approach by certain entrepreneurs and industrialists is partly to blame. The overt focus on economic gains, often at the expense of environmental and health considerations, has led to a perilous situation. Businesses, driven by profit motives, sometimes flout environmental norms, and the lack of strict governmental oversight only exacerbates this issue.
This situation has a cascading effect on consumers. With compromised resources, the health of citizens is continually at risk. This isn't merely a challenge for today but has profound implications for our future. An unhealthy populace results in reduced productivity, increased healthcare costs, and a potential downturn in economic growth. In the long run, we risk creating a nation where the infrastructures stand tall, but its people remain weakened.
So, where do we go from here?
First, it's imperative for the government to acknowledge the gravity of the situation. Policies need a revamp, with a shift from mere economic-centric visions to holistic developmental agendas. Price level should be controlled so that people of the middle-income group can afford to buy their adequate food at least. Strict regulations should be enforced, ensuring that industries adhere to environmental and health safety norms.
Moreover, entrepreneurs and businesses must recognize their ethical responsibility towards the community. They should think about justified profit but not over profit. Profit, while essential, should not come at the cost of people's health and well-being.
Public awareness campaigns, focusing on the importance of environmental health and personal well-being, can play a crucial role. When consumers are informed, they can make choices that prioritize their health and, in turn, compel businesses to adopt safer practices.
In conclusion, while the infrastructural strides Bangladesh has made are indeed laudable, the health of its citizens should be at the forefront. A truly prosperous nation is one where its people are healthy, nourished, and thriving in a safe environment. It's high time to pivot our focus and invest in a healthier, more resilient Bangladesh.
Writer: Economist & Researcher, Chairman – Enterprise 360 Limited and School of Entrepreneurship Development