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Tackling Covid-19: Bangladesh will need $378 million fund

  • Published at 09:29 pm March 29th, 2020
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A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication, together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to Covid-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020 Reuters

Draft UN memo calls for nearly $300m fund for necessary procurement to equip, supply the health care system for the anticipated influx of Covid-19 cases

The United Nations has called for a nearly $378 million new fund to process the significant procurement needs to sufficiently equip and supply the health care system for the anticipated influx of severe and critical Covid-19 cases in Bangladesh. 

Bangladesh will require a $378 million fund, and of this, around $300m is required in an immediate basis, UN estimates with its Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP), drafted on March 26. 

The CPRP is prepared jointly by the United Nations in Bangladesh and concerned government counterparts with participation of a number of civil society partners and other actors, said United Nations office in Bangladesh.

Out of the fund requested, $9,269,017 will be required for case management and Infection Prevention Control [IPC], $203,000 will be needed for information management, $273,447,010 for logistics and procurement, $5,925,000 for risk communication and community engagement, $1,134,654 for surveillance and laboratory support, and $7,988,816 for contact tracing and point of entry [POE] screening, the memo shows.

Why the fund has been requested?

The memo cited weak health system and risk of a complete saturation of the health system early in the epidemic leaving patients in severe or critical condition from COVID or other conditions without adequate health care facilities throughout much of the epidemic as challenges for Bangladesh.

Exposure of healthcare workers can be rampant given current infection prevention control practices, lack of PPEs, and extremely high patient densities in secondary and tertiary care hospitals, it forecasted.

Conventional social distancing tools for mitigating infectious disease outbreaks, such as case isolation, school closure, or home quarantine (i.e. lockdown) as modeling of interventions alone will be insufficient to flatten the curve enough to preserve intensive care capacity.

“Only a combination of all interventions simultaneously, referred to as “suppression”, is expected to provide sufficient reduction in contract rate to blunt the epidemic,” it observed.

In Bangladesh, preparedness has improved in selected facilities at the national level, but PPE supplies remain scattered with healthcare workers and facilities generally unprepared for managing suspect and confirmed COVID-19 cases, the memo finds.

It also pointed out that COVID-19 testing capacity for is still limited and not available nationwide.

It also said the departure of about 9 million people, who moved out of Dhaka ahead of the 26 March shutdown, most likely dispersed incubating and infectious individuals throughout the country.

The draft CPRP stressed for the need of initiating immediate nationwide case searching and identification utilizing existing community networks as well as telecom based reporting via 333. 

Individuals with symptoms will be evaluated and those who meet the clinical criteria will be isolated at home with their families while home isolation will be monitored remotely and reinforced as necessary for those who leave their homes, it said.

It also emphasised on the need for all available real-time diagnostic testing facilities rapidly assessed for capability of deploying COVID-19 testing. 

UN urges everyone to comply with suggestive measures

The United Nations on Saturday said coronavirus can spread fast if preventative measures are not put in place quickly and urged everyone to comply with the measures.

"The United Nations is fully supportive of the measures the Government of Bangladesh has been taking to slow the spread of COVID-19," said the UN in a statement.

Bangladesh, in partnership with the UN, civil society and the private sector, has rapidly operationalized many interventions including enforced quarantine and isolation; intensified risk communication; social distancing; social protection; and the closure of schools and public spaces. 

"We urge everyone to comply with these measures," said the UN.  

This will allow extra time for the government and its partners, including the UN agencies, civil society and the private sector, to strengthen medical capacity across the country and support the government in suppressing the pandemic, it said.

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