With support from the German Federal Foreign Office, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), will expand the provision of essential health services to Rohingya refugees and vulnerable members of the host community, as well as extend support to the Government of Bangladesh to build capacity at Points of Entry in Cox’s Bazar to identify, screen, and refer ill travelers.
The generous funding will enable IOM to establish three Isolation and Treatment Centers, repurpose 100 mid-term shelters for quarantine and isolation of mild cases, support the Cash-for-Work programme to build the resilience of affected families in the camps/settlements, establish three ambulance decontamination sites, support ambulance dispatch coordination, and provide PPE and training to Community Health Workers (CHWs) involved in contact tracing within refugee and host communities.
In addition, the funding will strengthen Government of Bangladesh-led efforts at Points of Entry through training POE staff to manage ill travelers, establishing screening and isolation facilities at the Cox’s Bazar airport, supplying POE frontline staff with necessary protective equipment and materials to maintain adequate sanitation of POE facilities, and supporting/facilitating a nationwide conference of POE authorities to address Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEICs).
“We are glad to further support IOM’s COVID-19 response in Bangladesh. Expanding the provision of essential health services to Rohingya refugees and vulnerable members of the host community in Cox’s Bazar is essential to prevent a further spread of the virus and to treat and educate people accordingly,” said Ambassador Peter Fahrenholtz, German Embassy in Dhaka.
“We are grateful to the Government of Germany for their support that enables us to continue providing emergency health support to vulnerable communities, especially the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar who are almost entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance,” said Giorgi Gigauri, IOM‘s Chief of Mission in Bangladesh. “This funding will enable us to continue to support the Government to build capacity at Points of Entry so officials can take measures to prevent infected travelers from spreading the virus to their communities. Containment measures are so important in Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world.”
In recent months, IOM and partners invited community and religious leaders to participate in ‘Go and See’ visits to build confidence in treatment and quarantine facilities. Community perceptions influence the uptake of health services and determine the success of crisis interventions. Since March, IOM has constructed three Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI) Isolation and Treatment Centers (ITCs) for patients with COVID-19 with a total capacity of 215 beds. IOM has also upgraded 13 additional health care facilities, scaled up the emergency Dispatch and Referral Unit (DRU) for ambulance and live-bed referral, and provided over 200,000 general health consultations at IOM-managed Primary Health Care Centers (PHCCs) and Health Posts (HP) for refugee and host communities. In order to save lives, the dissemination of accurate and reliable information is essential to stop transmission and prevent the spread of the virus. Since March, IOM teams and trained community volunteers organized over 1.9 million awareness-raising sessions, messages include information on protection, prevention, treatment, and quarantine.
In the early days of the crisis, it became apparent that while physical distancing was being mandated by Governments across the world, it would just not work in Cox’s Bazar where households live in such proximity to one another. IOM and partners are mobilizing funding to build ITCs so ill members of the community can receive the treatment they need, and to refurbish/build quarantine facilities for potential contacts of confirmed cases to contain the spread of the virus.
Bangladesh faces critical humanitarian needs and the COVID-19 crisis is aggravated by the return of hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19-induced recession. The large-scale, rapid return of migrant workers is placing added strain on already overwhelmed healthcare and social support systems.