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Coronavirus: Govt and IOM together providing support to Rohingyas, locals

  • Published at 10:42 pm April 14th, 2020
Photo shows a rohingya camp in Cox 's Bazar Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

'However, no positive cases have so far been reported across the congested Rohingya camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas in Cox’s Bazar, yet'

The government, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and others have come together to ensure health services for Rohingyas refugees and locals in Cox’s Bazar amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The organization issued a press release in this regard on Tuesday. 

As of Tuesday, Bangladesh has confirmed 1,012 coronavirus cases with the death toll rising to 46 after seven new fatalities were reported.

The fast spreading Covid-19 has so far killed 121,000 people in more than 200 countries and territories.

“However, no positive cases have so far been reported across the congested Rohingya camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf upazilas in Cox’s Bazar, yet.” said the release.

“All the 35 health care facilities supported by IOM continue to provide essential primary health care services, while implementing partners have trained community health workers and volunteers. This has resulted in 35,399 door-to-door awareness visits, 402 court-yard sessions and 18,553 peer to peer discussions, meaning that Covid-19 preventive messages have reached 113,087 people.

“Coronavirus case management orientations were also held for 260 IOM health staff, including sessions on infection prevention control and risk communication. Altogether, around 600 staff received the general briefing on the virus including ongoing updates, clinical features, preventative measures and travel recommendations,” added the release.  

“Furthermore, to ensure staff safety, health facilities were provided with personal protection equipment (PPE), including 1,710 disposable gowns, 3,900 examination gloves, 13,500 face masks, 1,020 face shields, 39 gumboots, 630 N95 respirators and 540 liquid hand wash dispensers. 

“In addition, 31 infrared thermal scanners were distributed for setting up safe triage at health facilities for Covid-19, and continued procurement is underway,” said the release.

IOM National Health Program Officer Dr Samir Kumar Howlader, said: “IOM continues to coordinate with the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), the civil surgeon’s office, and the World Bank, to support the government isolation centres in Chakaria and Ramu upazilas of Cox’s Bazar.

“IOM has extended its support to Cox’s Bazar Sadar Hospital with 10 medical officers, one radiologist, one radiographer, one sanitation officer and 15 Cleaners, and will supply PPEs (personal protective equipment) for the healthcare providers.”

Moreover, following a request from the local authorities, two ambulances were assigned to support Covid-19 case referrals by IOM.

“IOM organized a daylong training with the World Health Organization (WHO) for 19 ambulance staff, including drivers, medical escorts and hotline operators on infection prevention and control (IPC) in ambulances. 

“The IOM medical team is also establishing an ambulance disinfection point in Cox’s Bazar for cleaning and decontaminating ambulances designated for handling coronavirus cases. IOM plans to set up two more such disinfection points in Ukhiya and Teknaf,” said the release.

“To mitigate impact on the camps, the construction of two isolation and treatment centres with 100-bed capacity each at Leda (Camp 24) and the greater Kutupalong Balukhali Extension (KBE) camps are in progress. Four primary healthcare centres have been readied to offer temporary isolation support for potential Covid-19 cases within the camps. Necessary renovations and procurement processes are underway to scale up the isolation bed capacity within each centre. 

Despite movement restrictions, IOM Communication with Communities (CwC) teams and others continue using public audio forums and radio programmes to communicate hygiene and health-related messages with awareness raising materials,” added the release.

IOM is also working with community leaders in the camps and with locals to encourage behavioural changes in line with the guidance provided by DGHS. 

Supplementing these efforts are other IOM teams including Protection, Site Management and WASH, which have also conducted awareness raising measures that have reached more than 300,000 beneficiaries.

The organization’s response to combat the ongoing pandemic is supported by the governments of Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US.

Bangladesh is now hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas in Cox's Bazar district and most of them entered Bangladesh since August 25, 2017, amid a military crackdown on Rohingyas in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.

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