The Devastating State of Breast Cancer Patients in Chittagong Medical College Hospital



Nyma Hossain
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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Breast cancer, a life-threatening disease, has the highest prevalence compared to any other type of cancer in Bangladeshi women, yet little to no women above the age of 35 know about the following cancer. That is why, this incident increases significantly each year due to poor socio-economic status, illiteracy, unawareness of the people and lastly, lack of confidence of the patients which leads most women to go to doctors late which results in the disease entering a second or third stage and treatment becomes very complicated and costly.

Over a dozen of breast cancer patients were interviewed in Chittagong Medical College Hospital and not a single patient knew about a cancer related to breast before diagnosis. Among those patients, only one crossed the boundary of the high school or passed SSC. Many of them barely studied till class 6 and some of them never went to school. They also come from a poor socio-economic status and few cannot even afford the treatment. As most of them come from a conservative society, they do not talk about it much and are ashamed of it.

44 years old Jitu Begum, a victim of breast cancer, was suggested to seek homeopathy treatment by the people of her village when she started to feel a lump on her breast. As a result, the tumor was left untreated and her condition worsened. The doctors informed her, leaving the tumor untreated for a long period of time caused the cancer.

50 years old Mojlish Begum, also a victim of the same tragic fate, was diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago but stopped the treatment as she couldn’t afford it anymore. It led her condition becoming from bad to worse.

Studies show that women from poor socio-economic status and with no or low education are often victims of late presentation and tend to have a higher stage at diagnosis. Poverty, literacy and assorted risk factors have influenced the outcome of breast cancer cases among Bangladeshi women.

As the primary method of breast cancer diagnosis is biopsy, patients need to contact a doctor as soon as they notice abnormal symptoms. By doing this, patients have a significantly better chance of surviving cancer and potentially avoiding cancer is what experts say.

None among all the interviewed patients knew about the existence of breast cancer despite breast cancer being the most common cancer in women in Bangladesh. Lack of awareness and society’s conservativeness are the reason why these women are in such ill-fated and painful situations. We should consider it a forewarning now that if proper steps are not taken to spread awareness among women of Chittagong about breast cancer, the condition of breast cancer patients will only get worse in the near future.

Real face of Bloomberg and his Anti-Vape Supporters



Anisuzzaman Naser Khan
Anisuzzaman Naser Khan

Anisuzzaman Naser Khan

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Billionaire philanthropist Mike Bloomberg has been at the forefront of banning E-cigarettes and vapes. Especially influencing middle to lower income economies to pass regulations that either heavily limits electronic nicotine delivery systems or bans them completely.

In Bangladesh they are funding agencies like Progga, Shimantik and few others to push this agenda forward without any economic or scientific analysis of the products or the situation. Most studies on E-cigarettes show that yes, they are harmful, but they have 95% less toxicants compared to combustible cigarettes Public Health England maintains vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking | E-cigarettes | The Guardian so for people who are severely addicted to cigarettes this has been classified as a smoking cessation tool and it has been proven to be more effective compared to any other nicotine replacement therapy. They are so effective that consumers in Argentina Life as a Criminalized Vapes Dealer in Buenos Aires (filtermag.org), India and few other countries are importing them illegally which means that their Governments are losing out on earnings which could have been generated through taxes levied upon such products What is the case against e-cigarette company Juul, and did it promote ‘vaping’ among teens? | Explained News,The Indian Express. So, the question remains why Bloomberg is funding such campaigns?

Real incentive of Foreign Investors

An interesting fact about Bloomberg is that one of his investment interests can be linked with a smoking alternative tech company Hale. Bloomberg part of aventure capital kwon as Village Global which has its interests in Hale a smoking cessation tool which is currently still in its research phase. Heavy regulations of existing electronic delivery systems could decrease the competition when Hale is eventually launched. It is to be noted that Bill Gates the founder of Gates Foundation (A big funder of anti-vaping groups) is also an investor of Village Global. Bloomberg Flavour Ban Plan - A Conflict Of Interest? - Ecigclick

Foreign Meddling in National Policies is harmful

Every nation is different. Therefore, any policy made should be considerate of their situation and culture. The policy that worked for a country with 10% of the population smoking might not be effective in countries with 40% of the population smoking. Smoking behavior and consumer trends are also quite important while making such decisions. Implementing something based on what a foreign doner feels is not only unethical but also detrimental for the development of a nation.

Previously in Philippines, Bloomberg was accused of buying off the Food and Drug Administration to implement anti-science policies related to vaping. Bloomberg and his associates were under legal scrutiny for violating laws and discriminating against the legal tobacco industry. Reports also suggest that Bloomberg Philanthropies is also implementing similar practices in Vietnam, Romania and other LMCs. Bloomberg Exposed for Foreign Meddling in Tobacco and Vaping Policy in the Philippines - Americans for Tax Reform (atr.org)

Bangladesh is headed towards its National Election at the end of 2023, in such an atmosphere having foreign bodies that have no understanding of how the countries economy works and how people are struggling amidst a global recession should not be our advisors. 

Shortsighted NGOs of Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a country where more than 30% of population above 15 are smokingBangladesh Smoking Rate 2000-2023 | MacroTrends, drastic regulations and banning electronic alternatives would only mean they will either seek cheaper or illegal cigarettes which would further deteriorate the situation. The only loser in this situation would be the government as they would lose the internal revenue generated from the tobacco industry. Street sellers would lose their jobs and with the ongoing global economic crisis this could create massive unrest in the country. Understanding the gravity of the situation the 2040 tobacco free goal was set by our Honorable Prime Minister so that we can slowly phase out from the current situation i.e., reduce smoking steadily, create alternative employment for people in this sector and ensure quit smoking tools are available and accessible to people from all walks of life.

Anti-Tobacco Groups only consulting foreign entities and select few groups for which they are unable to realize the repercussions of the policies they are suggesting.

Studies that claim Vapes have high health risks are being retracted

Alongside research on how e-cigarettes are helping people reduce smoking, anti-vaping claims with unscientific foundation are being retracted. “Cancer Prevalence in E-Cigarette Users: A Retrospective Cross-Sectional NHANES Study” published in World Journal of Oncology (Aprominent research, referenced by anti-vape communities) has recently been retracted Retraction Notice to “Cancer Prevalence in E-Cigarette Users: A Retrospective Cross-Sectional NHANES Study” | Office | World Journal of Oncology (wjon.org) and prior to that in a study published in the Journal of American Heart Association which states vapes double the chance of heart attacks has also been found to be unreliable.Vaping study retracted: Scientists want probe of UCSF tobacco research (usatoday.com)

More studies are slowly emerging that show the benefits of vaping and real life case studies are emerging from countries like UK and New Zealand where electronic nicotine delivery systems are effectively being used as quit smoking tools.

Writer: Vice President of Bangladesh Electronic Nicotine Delivery System Traders Association (BENDSTA).  

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India's G20 presidency to promote the universal sense of one-ness



Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

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The previous 17 presidencies of the G20 delivered significant results for ensuring macro-economic stability, rationalising international taxation, relieving debt burden on countries, among many other outcomes. We will benefit from these achievements, and build further upon them.

However, as India assumes this important mantle, I ask myself, can the G20 go further still? Can we catalyse a fundamental mindset shift, to benefit humanity as a whole?

I believe we can.

Our mindsets are shaped by our circumstances. Through all of history, humanity lived in scarcity. We fought for limited resources, because our survival depended on denying them to others. Confrontation and competition – between ideas, ideologies and identities – became the norm.

Unfortunately, we remain trapped in the same zero-sum mindset even today. We see it when countries fight over territory or resources. We see it when supplies of essential goods are weaponised. We see it when vaccines are hoarded by a few, even as billions remain vulnerable.

Some may argue that confrontation and greed are just human nature. I disagree. If humans were inherently selfish, what would explain the lasting appeal of so many spiritual traditions that advocate the fundamental one-ness of us all?

One such tradition, popular in India, sees all living beings, and even inanimate things, as composed of the same five basic elements – the panch tatva of earth, water, fire, air and space. Harmony among these elements – within us and between us – is essential for our physical, social and environmental well-being.

India's G20 presidency will work to promote this universal sense of one-ness. Hence our theme: "One Earth, One Family, One Future."

This is not just a slogan. It takes into account recent changes in human circumstances, which we have collectively failed to appreciate.

Today, we have the means to produce enough to meet the basic needs of all people in the world.

Today, we do not need to fight for our survival – our era need not be one of war. Indeed, it must not be one!

Today, the greatest challenges we face – climate change, terrorism, and pandemics – can be solved not by fighting each other, but only by acting together.

Fortunately, today's technology also gives us the means to address problems on a humanity-wide scale. The massive virtual worlds that we inhabit today demonstrate the scalability of digital technologies.

Housing one-sixth of humanity, and with its immense diversity of languages, religions, customs and beliefs, India is a microcosm of the world.

With the oldest-known traditions of collective decision-making, India contributes to the foundational DNA of democracy. As the mother of democracy, India's national consensus is forged not by diktat, but by blending millions of free voices into one harmonious melody.

Today, India is the fastest growing large economy. Our citizen-centric governance model takes care of even our most marginalised citizens, while nurturing the creative genius of our talented youth.

We have tried to make national development not an exercise in top-down governance, but rather a citizen-led "people's movement."

We have leveraged technology to create digital public goods that are open, inclusive and inter-operable. These have delivered revolutionary progress in fields as varied as social protection, financial inclusion, and electronic payments.

For all these reasons, India's experiences can provide insights for possible global solutions.

During our G20 presidency, we shall present India's experiences, learnings and models as possible templates for others, particularly the developing world.

Our G20 priorities will be shaped in consultation with not just our G20 partners, but also our fellow-travellers in the global South, whose voice often goes unheard.

Our priorities will focus on healing our "One Earth," creating harmony within our "One Family" and giving hope for our "One Future."

For healing our planet, we will encourage sustainable and environment-friendly lifestyles, based on India's tradition of trusteeship towards nature.

For promoting harmony within the human family, we will seek to depoliticise the global supply of food, fertilisers and medical products, so that geo-political tensions do not lead to humanitarian crises. As in our own families, those whose needs are the greatest must always be our first concern.

For imbuing hope in our future generations, we will encourage an honest conversation among the most powerful countries – on mitigating risks posed by weapons of mass destruction and enhancing global security.

India's G20 agenda will be inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented, and decisive. Let us join together to make India's G20 presidency a presidency of healing, harmony and hope. Let us work together to shape a new paradigm – of human-centric globalisation.

Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister of India.

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Rohingya Issue: From Humanitarian Problem to Security Risk



Dr. Mahfuz Parvez
Rohingya Issue: From Humanitarian Problem to Security Risk

Rohingya Issue: From Humanitarian Problem to Security Risk

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More than 10 lakh Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have been staying in Bangladesh for five years. Bangladesh has set a commendable example by providing humanitarian aid to the whole world. But the unstable situation on the border that has been going on for more than a month due to the internal conflict in Myanmar is very unfortunate. As a result, the roots of the problem around the Rohingyas are growing. The humanitarian problem is gradually becoming a security risk.

It is noteworthy that due to the conflict between the armed group Arakan Army and the country's army in the Rakhine state of Myanmar, security risks and instability often arise on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. The firing started several days ago at Ghumdhum border of Naikxyongchhari upazila of Bandarban. At one point, a mortar shell landed on the zero line opposite the Tumbru border. A Rohingya youth died in this.

Five Rohingya citizens including a child were injured in that incident. Before and after this, several rounds of mortar shells came from Myanmar into Bangladesh border. Each time the Myanmar ambassador was called and protested.

Also, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has briefed the envoys of the ASEAN Alliance on various aspects of the Rohingya issue. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also called for a more proactive role of the international community in solving the Rohingya problem in her address to the United Nations General Assembly.

Although Rohingya issue has set an example by providing shelter and humanitarian aid to refugees, the problem is not unique to Bangladesh, but part of regional and international problems. The creation of security risks and instability around this sensitive location of the world's largest number of refugees can seriously damage regional peace and international balance. As a result, the international community's role in addressing the humanitarian and security risks of the Rohingya problem is a very urgent priority.

In this case, it is important to prioritize some issues and move towards solving the problem.

1. Sheikh Hasina government's humanitarian role in the Rohingya issue is very positive and effective, which must be continued with the support and cooperation of the international community. As a result, the international community should come forward with a positive attitude at the call of the government.

2. Due to the Rohingya issue, it is imperative that Myanmar take effective steps towards the repatriation of its citizens and a permanent solution to the problem, putting more pressure on Myanmar internationally. Internationally and regionally, different organizations and countries have to work together with sincerity in this regard.

3. The regional and international community must act urgently to prevent potential humanitarian and security catastrophes against Myanmar's creation of border destabilization and security risks. Myanmar must be deterred by applying strong pressure from misdeeds that undermine peace, stability and security.

4. Academics, researchers and experts in Bangladesh need to focus more on the humanitarian, socio-economic, political, security and environmental aspects of the Rohingya problem. Data should be provided at the national and international levels through objective research on the problems that have arisen from this problem in five years and what problems may arise. Based on which the domestic and foreign policy makers can take appropriate plans and programs.

5. It should be monitored whether the huge amount of money allocated for Rohingya is being spent properly and the working NGOs and their manpower should be monitored. Donors on behalf of NGOs should present factual information on humanitarian issues as well as other issues including security.

6. Initiatives should be taken to resolve conflict and tension between Rohingya refugees and local residents.

7. On the Rohingya issue, attention should be paid to the formation of public opinion in the light of national interest and national security policy.

8. International organizations and countries need to be made more active and proactive by providing regular information and briefings on the multidimensional dangers of the problem.

9. The security of Rohingya camps, surrounding areas, especially the adjacent Chittagong Hill Tracts and the sea route must be strengthened and effective steps must be taken to root out activities that pose security risks through terrorism, arms, drug and human trafficking.

10. In order to ensure the security, peace and stability of Cox's Bazar, Chittagong Hill Tracts and South-East region of Bangladesh, which are regionally and internationally very important and sensitive areas of the Indo-Pacific region, more importance should be given to these issues in the national security policy and strategy.

The Rohingya issue has a national and global responsibility to address security risks. Although the problem affects Bangladesh, its regional and international significance is immense. As a result, as Bangladesh is fulfilling its humanitarian responsibility regarding this problem, the international community has also come forward. But the way security and other problems are emerging in the Rohingya issue is very worrying for everyone. As a result, it has now become necessary for everyone to act nationally, regionally and internationally to find an immediate and acceptable solution to these problems.

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Department of Political Science, Chittagong University; Associate Editor, www.barta24.com

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Who will lead France for the next five years?



Dr Mahfuz Parvez
Macron and Le Pen Prepare for Showdown

Macron and Le Pen Prepare for Showdown

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France on Saturday (April 23) prepared to choose between centrist President Emmanuel Macron and far-right challenger Marine Le Pen to rule the country for the next five years after a bitterly contested and polarising election campaign. By Sunday (April 24) evening, the world will know whether France has elected its first female leader, or the first two-term president since Jacques Chirac.

Considering the election processes, It’s looking like Emmanuel Macron is headed for victory; he holds a ten-point average lead in polls over his challenger, the far-right Marine Le Pen. That she is still within range of Macron, who trounced her by 30 percentage points in 2017, has Western capitals nervous that the French could swap an ardent EU supporter for one closer to Moscow than Brussels.

However, Undecided voters are one concern, with as many as 11 percent still yet to make up their minds. The supporters of the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon are another wildcard. The worry for Macron is not so much that they would go over to Le Pen, but that they simply won’t vote at all. Just under half of his first round voters don’t intend to cast a ballot on Sunday, but two-thirds of those who plan to vote say they’ll back Macron.

Michele Barbero, in a Paris dispatch for Foreign Policy Journal, spoke with one Mélenchon supporter who isn’t sure whether to vote on Sunday. “I feel disillusioned, desperate, and I have less and less confidence in politics to bring about more social justice,” she said.

As the election of Joe Biden in 2020 showed, a victory for a centrist candidate doesn’t magically de-polarize an electorate. So even a loss may not spell the end for Le Pen, who will be just 58 when the 2027 elections come around—and would no longer have to face Macron, who would be barred from serving a third consecutive term.

With Le Pen within arm’s reach of Macron, some world leaders have gotten off the fence. In a rare foray into French politics, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made the case for Macron in a Le Monde op-ed on Thursday. Sharing a byline with his left-leaning counterparts Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, the three men presented a choice between “a democratic candidate, who believes that France grows in a powerful EU. And a far-right candidate, who openly sides with those attacking our freedom and democracy.”

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former Brazilian President has also stated his support for Macron, describing the election as one where “the future of democracy” is at stake.

Although U.S. President Joe Biden has not publicly expressed his preference, his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama still might. The former president would be leaving it late; he already had backed Macron by this time in the 2017 election cycle.

Perhaps doing Le Pen a favor, given the distance she has tried to put between herself and the Russian leader during her campaign, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stayed silent. Her ideological allies in Hungary and Poland have too.

Imprisoned Russian dissident Alexei Navalny has also stumped for Macron—while skewering his opponent, saying on Twitter that any so-called conservative who is sympathetic to Putin “is actually just a hypocrite with no conscience.”

Barring a too-close-to-call election, exit polls should predict the winner by the time voting ends at 8 p.m. Paris time on Sunday.

Dr. Mahfuz Parvez, Professor, Political Science, University of Chittagong and Associate Editor, barta24.com

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