Lately when I visit Bangladesh , an increasing number of visitors come to greet me, known, fairly known, somewhat known, less known, hardly known or even unknown. They all have one thing common to them. They all carry a CD with them. A CD, very carefully cased, then wrapped in clothe, handled very respectfully and carefully, gets out of the hand bag or shirt pocket and unwrapped in shaky hands. Then the CD is handed over to me with a body language similar to when the British Monarch hands over the Victoria Cross to the recipient.

I can’t cite any data, because there are none. But recently, chest pain caused by coronary artery disease followed by coronary deaths have taken a epidemic proportion in Bangladesh. Every death news I get coming from bangladesh, a middle aged man, women, an elderly, or a young man; there is 90% possibility that the death was due to heart attack.

With rapidly developing cardiology service in Bangladesh, people with chest pain are now getting an angiogram to confirm some blocked coronaries. After the angiogram, these women/men, with the CD of the angiogram are left wth the decision on how to treat the blockage. Thus they start their journey to solve the unsolvable arithmetic.

They are often told, without giving any time to elaborate or Q &A, ” you have block, you need stents. If you put the regular stent this will cost you 1.5 lac, but if you put the medicated stent, it will cost you 4 lac taka”. In most cases I saw, they have no clue what a stent is, what is the benefit of a medicated vs a non-medicated one.

Most cases they have some money left in providence fund they thought of using for daughters marriage or sons foreign trip.

Now they start debating how to better use the money. Should they go to NICVD at Dhaka where it will cost less, or Heart foundation or other new hospitals in Dhaka, or go to India or Singapore.? They get a price quote for life from all these places. Medicated stent …Taka, non medicated stent…taka.

They keep on bracing the madness of Dhaka streets, in search of a solution to the riddle. Is it worthy paying 2 lac for a renewal of life, how to renew it, with medicated or nonmedicated stent? Where to go, NICVD, India? Or rather to save the money for daughetr’s wedding or son’s possible opportunity for a job in malaysia.

With pain in the chest and a CD in their hand, they keep calculating with a resolve to solve the unsolvable riddle.

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