43 members of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s four traffic divisions died in the last four years. Among them, 18 died of heart attack
Traffic constable Ataur Rahman was performing his duty at the Kakrail intersection of Dhaka on a hot sunny afternoon three years ago. Suddenly, he felt severe pain in his chest.
Being panicked, he went to Rajarbagh Police Lines Hospital immediately. Doctors at the hospital found a block in his heart after doing an ECG (Electrocardiogram) test.
Later, Ataur took admission to the National Heart Foundation Hospital. After two weeks of treatment at the hospital, he went back to his duty.
Currently, he is performing eight to nine hours of duty every day with his ailing heart.
"I have been doing my duty every day since the heart attack. I have also been taking medicines regularly.
"I find it very hard to do the job nowadays. When I go back to the barrack sometimes I observe sand-like things coming out with my cough," Ataur Rahman told The Business Standard.
"I have been in this profession for 30 years. I do not know how I will pass the coming days," he added.
Like Ataur, 80 percent of the traffic police personnel who perform their duty on the field level are suffering from different diseases while heart disease is a fairly common illness among them, according to Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
The DMP data said 43 members of its four traffic divisions died in the last four years. Among them, 18 died after a heart attack while the others died from cancer, dyspnoea, kidney failure, and road accident.
According to data provided by the Police Headquarters, 179 police died while on duty across the country in 2019. Most of them were from the traffic department. Among them, 10 were from the DMP and five of them died after a heart attack.
Most of the traffic police members are exposed to loud horns of vehicles, sirens and other traffic-related noises which heighten the risk of stroke, according to research conducted in Denmark.
The research also found that the risk of stroke is 27 percent higher among people aged above 65 years who are exposed to these sorts of noises.
Traffic constable Abdur Kader died of a heart attack last December. During the time of his cardiac arrest, he was on duty in the Gulistan area of the city.
"My husband was the goalkeeper of the police volleyball team. He had no major illness. Several years ago he was transferred to the traffic department. He started to suffer from different diseases after the transfer," said Asma Akhtar, wife of Abdur Kader.
According to Rajarbagh Central Police Hospital sources, almost of the traffic police who perform field-level duties are suffering from different diseases like heart problems, stroke, dyspnea, kidney problems, urine infections, back pain.
Doctors of Rajarbagh Central Police Hospital said excessive mental pressure, long duty hours without any rest, and sound pollution raise the risk of heart diseases among the members of traffic police.
Dr Emdadul Haque of the hospital said, "Long duty hours without any rest lessen the stamina of the traffic police. Excessive tension and workload contribute to worsening their condition which causes heatstroke and heart diseases."
"Enough rest and nutritious food can reduce the risk of a heart attack. The government should take some steps like widening the roads, banning vehicles which produce black smoke etc for the benefit of traffic police. It will reduce their mental pressure," he added.
Monjur Morshed, additional deputy-commissioner of Traffic West Division, told The Business Standard, "The DMP has taken an important step for traffic police. It is providing masks and umbrellas to them, which are expected to reduce the risk of breathing problems and skin diseases. But we are still helpless in terms of preventing heart diseases."
"Regular health checkup and 10 days of extra leaves after a certain period of duty may reduce the risk," he said.