Bangladesh is not only one of the most densely populated countries in the world (with 926 persons per square kilometer) but also located in the world’s largest delta, facing the Himalayas in the North, bordering India in the West, North and East, Myanmar in the Southeast, and the Bay of Bengal in the South.
No comprehensive empirical study has been conducted at present to determine the incidence and prevalence of disabilities in Bangladesh. The few studies that have been conducted reflect a medical rather than a social model of disability, and they are also limited in geographical coverage. While no reliable national data exist, anecdotal information and a number of micro studies generally suggest a disability prevalence rate of between 5 to 12 per cent. This is close to the WHO estimate, which states that 10 per cent of any given population can be considered to have some or other form of disability.
Ignorance and wrong beliefs surrounding disability, compounded with a negative and derogatory attitude of the community (including family members) have contributed to the marginal development in the disability sector in Bangladesh.
As Bangladesh makes progress in implementing its health policies on infant mortality rate, immunization coverage, and general health care, there is likely a lowering of incidence of disabilities. However, the gains due to improved health care can be outweighed by the triple effects of increased number of surviving children with disabilities, increased number of people incurring disabilities due to old age (e.g., cataracts and arthritis), and widespread malnutrition. Disabilities due to natural calamities and road traffic accidents imply that the prevalence of people having disabilities in Bangladesh is likely to continually rise over-time, although the nature and distribution of disabilities are also likely to change considerably.