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High dignitaries observe efforts to curb Covid transmissions in Dhaka slums

  • Published at 06:06 pm September 22nd, 2021
UN volunteers
Volunteers distribute mask to people living in the slum areas of Dhaka Courtesy

Volunteers and trained community health workers are helping identify symptomatic Covid-19 cases and support them and their families with home-based case management

A number of organizations together are working to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in low-income slums throughout Bangladesh with an innovative approach. 

The program is called the Community Support Team (CST) and it deploys teams of volunteers into low-income urban slum communities to help identify symptomatic Covid-19 cases and support them and their families with home-based case management.

The teams consist of local volunteers and trained community health workers from a variety of NGO partners, including Brac, CDP, Himu, and Platform, read a press release published on Wednesday. 

With funding provided by the World Bank Pandemic Emergency Funding Facility, USAID and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom (FCDO), the Government of Bangladesh, several United Nations agencies (FAO, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP and WHO), non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations are behind the initiative. 

A high-level delegation of representatives from the government, donors, NGO partners, and UN agencies conducted a field visit to observe the work of the Community Support Teams in Dhaka on Wednesday.

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The Honourable Senior Secretary of the Health Services Division Lokman Hossain Miah and  Additional Director Generals of DGHS Prof Dr Nasima Sultana also joined the field mission, read the statement. 

The delegation observed three teams of volunteers visiting households, distributing masks, registering eligible household members for vaccination, and collecting Covid-19 samples in the Madartek neighborhood of Dhaka. 

The CST teams provide referrals to hospitals, telemedicine support, and screenings for vulnerable individuals with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. 

They also assist households with on-the-spot vaccination registration and vaccine card printing, added the release. 

By maintaining strict health and safety measures, the program is also distributing fabric masks and counseling the communities on how to keep the virus from spreading.

After the field visit, the participants held a roundtable discussion at the local ward councilor’s office. The delegation heard from residents of Madartek about their experiences and the support they received from the CSTs.

Prior to observing the work of the CSTs, the delegation participated in a ceremony where the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) officially handed over two portable X-ray systems to Mugda Medical College and Hospital. 

The systems were among 30 portable X-ray systems that FAO and UNFPA distributed to 21 hospitals across the country during the Covid-19 pandemic with funding from the World Bank Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.

The Honorable Senior Secretary Lokman Hossain Miah praised the Government’s partners for their support in containing the pandemic in Bangladesh. 

He said: “By allowing Covid-19 patients to receive care at home, the Community Support Team’s initiative has been instrumental in ensuring that hospitals do not get overburdened during the pandemic. I want to express my deepest gratitude to all our partners present for extending their generous support to us throughout this crisis.”

UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo said: “When Covid-19 arrived in Bangladesh in March 2020, there were serious concerns over how the country’s health system would deal with the overwhelming challenges posed by the pandemic.”

“Throughout this visit I have been delighted to see how the support provided by the United Nations and our partners has enabled the Government to employ innovative methods of testing, tracing and treating patients, and thus keep the pandemic under control in Bangladesh,” she concluded at the end of the mission.