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Bangladesh for data revolution in UN for Covid-19 response, recovery

  • Published at 11:40 am July 15th, 2020
coronavirus test MHO
FILE PHOTO: A health official uses a nasal swab to collect sample from a man for Covid-19 testing at Central Police Hospital in Rajarbagh, Dhaka on Thursday, May 21, 2020 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and ICT Division Senior Secretary N M Zeaul Alam spoke at the meeting while Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the UN Rabab Fatima chaired the discussion

Speakers at a panel discussion organized by Bangladesh Permanent Mission in the United Nations (UN) stressed the need for a “data revolution” for curbing health emergencies and protecting jobs in Covid-19 response and recovery.

They said evidence-based data is a critical enabler not only for responding to the health emergency posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, but also for ensuring access to routine health services and social protection for the poorest and most vulnerable, as well as supporting jobs for the locals and the returnee migrant workers.

Bangladesh Permanent Mission in the UN organized the virtual discussion titled “Accelerating Post Covid-19 Recovery Using Data Revolution” in collaboration with the Foreign Ministry of Bangladesh and the government’s a2i program, Somalian government, UN agencies and Future of Work Lab on Monday, said a release on Wednesday.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen and ICT Division Senior Secretary N M Zeaul Alam spoke at the meeting while Bangladesh Permanent Representative to the UN Rabab Fatima chaired the discussion.

Momen said Bangladesh, like many other migrant-sending countries, is now facing the challenge of returning expatriate workers as the economy is badly hit in many migrant host countries due to the pandemic, especially dwindling of oil prices.

“By collecting, processing, and using this data of these returnees, we can appropriately re-skill them, and also can help reintegrate them in a sustainable manner,” he said.

Alam stressed the need for establishing a “common data-sharing platform” at local and global levels to inform all relevant stakeholders necessary understanding in their efforts towards accelerating post coronavirus recovery and assessing its impact on social, economic, and other aspects, as well as achieving SDGs.

“As we are fighting the pandemic, the importance of scientific evidence has become more significant than ever, so has been the collection and analysis of data – not only for being informed on what’s happening but very important to suggest evidence-based response and timely actions for recovery,” said Ambassador Fatima.

Anir Chowdhury, a policy advisor at a2i, delivered the keynote speech where he shared some good practices in utilizing data for tackling the outbreak in Bangladesh like identification of possible hot zones of Covid-19 infections, provision of telehealth services, creation of a database of more than five million people who are in need for cash transfer and designing post-coronavirus skills and employment response.

Among other speakers, Regional Coordinator (Asia and Pacific), UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) Dr Denis Nkala shared how his office was playing the important role in supporting the efforts of the developing south in the response and recovery phase of the crisis.

Somalian government representative Abdirahim Muudey, Prof Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak of Yale University, Robert Opp of UNDP, Vincenzo Aquaro of UNDESA, Gemma Van Halderen of UNESCAP, Niall O’ Higgins of ILO, Paul Meyer of The Commons Project and Caroline Buckee of Harvard Public Health School also joined the panel discussion.

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