I’d been in Bangladesh for three months before the first of my tummy troubles arrived. I still don’t know what it was that I ate or why I hadn’t been sick before then – but once the problems started, they didn’t leave until I left Bangladesh.
Before arriving, I’d heard rumours about “Bangla Belly” and the “Dhaka Dash”. Those euphemisms are as famous as India’s “Delhi Belly” or Myanmar’s “Rangoon Runs”, and it breaks my heart that countries with such delicious and diverse cuisines often get remembered for their diarrhoea-inducing curries before anything else.
The reason we foreigners make such a fuss about it is because in most developed countries, food poisoning is rare. It’s something you get once every few years after eating greasy chicken from the corner takeaway shop; it’s something you pretend to have to get out of work or school exams. But in Bangladesh it’s a very real problem. Every year, gastroenteritis and diarrhoeal diseases kill 110,000 children below the age of five. Continue reading