Stories

In pictures: Fighting the spread of COVID-19 in Bangladesh

How do you fight the spread of COVID-19 in the world’s largest refugee camp?

As Bangladesh battles the Delta variant, Rohingya refugees, who live in challenging and overcrowded conditions, are particularly at risk.

Since last November, our health teams in Kutupalong Refugee Camp have been distributing home isolation kits to help families stay safe and protected.

 

Before a distribution begins, home isolation kits are brought and assembled in Medair’s health facility, and divided up among Rohingya Health volunteers who will cover different sectors of the camp.

“Volunteers live and work in this camp, giving them insight into the needs of their neighbours,” notes Christine Lindell Detweiler, Medair’s Health & Nutrition Advisor in Bangladesh. “This makes them vitally important when it comes to identifying people most in need of protection from COVID-19. They have a sense of responsibility in looking out for the families they visit on a monthly basis and they have built so much trust and confidence that families listen to their messaging around COVID-19 prevention and care.”

 

 

Each kit contains simple but important supplies to prevent the spread of the virus:     “For Rohingya refugees, buying even the most basic items is almost a luxury,” explains Dr Kabir, Health Manager with Medair. “This means that our home isolation kits, which include items such as soap, disinfectant, detergent powder or face masks are essential to help protect themselves.”

 

 

Transporting and distributing hundreds of kits through a refugee camp’s narrow and uneven pathways has its challenges. Here, bamboo is used to carry kits efficiently into the camp.

 

 

Prior and throughout the distributions, Medair volunteers adhere to strict COVID-19 prevention guidelines: mask-wearing, regular handwashing, and maintaining sufficient distance from at risk families.

 

 

During an initial assessment phase, our teams identify who may be particularly at risk for COVID-19, due to pre-existing health conditions or advanced age.

“I am receiving treatment at the Medair health facility as I have health issues,” shares Amira*, who has been living in Kutupalong Refugee Camp since 2017. “That’s why I am considered at risk from COVID-19. I will be able to use the items in this kit for me and my family.”

 

 

Volunteers also provide families with short trainings on how to use each item effectively, and reminders on basic hygiene guidelines.

 

 

Recipients confirm by signing a form that they have received the items. This allows our teams to check that everyone has been given a kit, and avoids duplications.

As distributions progress, our Monitoring and Evaluation team ensures that feedback is collected and improvements made accordingly: “We monitor the distributions, report back, and share our observations with the team’s management,” explains Jahirul Islam, Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer with Medair. “We also interview families who receive the kits to get their feedback. It is an important way to help improve our services.”

 

 

Between November 2020 and June 2021, Medair volunteers distributed home isolation kits to over 7,000 families: “From delivering kits to the doorstep of a vulnerable person’s home, to helping distribute kits for pregnant women, our volunteers are really the supportive hands and feet of both the health and nutrition programmes,” shares Christine.

 

 

The distribution of home isolation kits to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh was made possible thanks to the support and generous contribution of Swiss Solidarity.

 

*Name changed for security purposes.


 

Medair is an international humanitarian NGO that provides emergency relief and recovery services to families made vulnerable by natural disasters, conflicts, and other crises. In Bangladesh, Medair works in partnership with World Concern.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and Global Support Office staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.