As a part of continuous response to combat the COVID-19 in Cox’s Bazar, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC), has opened a 120-bed Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Isolation and Treatment Center (SARI ITC) – equipped to properly and with dignity treat those infected with COVID-19 – at Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar.
From the outset of the COVID-19 health crisis in Bangladesh, humanitarian actors in Cox’s Bazar district have been working incessantly to prepare the district, which hosts one of the largest refugee settlements in the world, for an appropriate response to the outbreak in line with the national and WHO guidelines.
With the latest establishment, the UN Migration Agency set up total three SARI ITCs, with the capacity of total 230 beds to isolate and treat COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe symptoms. The IOM-initiated ITCs are to provide continuous COVID-19 related health service for both host community and refugees in Teknaf and Ukhyia upazilas.
Addressing as chief guest, the RRRC Md. Mahbub Alam Talukder inaugurated the 120-bed SARI ITC at camp number 20 Extension on Monday, the 17th of August while IOM’s Deputy Chief of Mission Manuel Marques Pereira chaired the programme.
The RRRC Md. Mahbub Alam Talukder said: “We have conducted humanitarian programmes at the Rohingya camps with the utmost caution in the COVID-19 situation. That’s why we got success. We have given priority to the healthcare sector. Out of about one million Rohingyas, only six have died of COVID-19 so far. It has been possible to control the transmission of infection through the coordinated efforts by all. This achievement belongs to everyone.”
Md. Atiqur Rahman, Commanding Officer (Superintendent of Police), 14 Armed Police Battalion (APBN), Cox’s Bazar; Md. Abdus Sabur, Camp-in-Charge, Camp 20 & 20 Extension; Md. Nikaruzzaman, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), Ukhiya; Dr. Ranjan Barua, UHFPO, Ukhiya Upazila Health Complex, and Dr. Mukesh Kumar Prajapati, Health Sector Coordinator, ISCG, spoke at the programme as special guests.
To date, in addition to the aforementioned SARI ITCs, IOM’s Migration Health Division (MHD) has upgraded four existing primary health care facilities in Cox’s Bazar. In addition, IOM continues to coordinate with the DGHS, Civil Surgeon Office and the World Bank to support government isolation centres at Chakaria and Ramu upazilas in Cox’s Bazar.
Strengthening and upgrading existing health services is one of IOM’s top priorities to support the Government of Bangladesh and limit the impact of COVID-19 in Cox’s Bazar – however – monsoon response, protection services and livelihoods efforts must go on. As the humanitarian community is now faced with a crisis within a crisis, strong partnerships and a comprehensive response effort are critical to reducing vulnerabilities within the district. Together with partners, IOM aims to expand support and alleviate the burden faced by vulnerable populations to COVID-19 across the district.
Additional IOM Health Support in Cox’s Bazar District:
• IOM has extended support to Cox’s Bazar Sadar Hospital with 10 Medical Officers, one Radiologist, one Radiographer, one Sanitation Officer and 15 Cleaners – and supplied PPE for health care providers.
• IOM is supporting the expansion of bed capacity and quality improvement of services including an ambulance to support referral at SARI ITCs in Ramu and Chakoria under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Bangladesh.
• Resource support is being provided at upazila health complexes in the district, including Ukhiya and Teknaf.
• IOM is leading an ambulance dispatch and referral unit to coordinate and properly manage COVID-19 patients and contacts. Seven dedicated ambulances have been assigned to support the referral of COVID-19 cases.
• Through 24-hour hotlines and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology, IOM continues to respond despite operational challenges, providing life-saving information while dispelling harmful rumours and misinformation concerning COVID-19.
• IOM is continuing essential primary health care services at 35 primary care facilities.
• A 93-shelter units have been converted to quarantine centre to accommodate 465 individual contacts of COVID19 cases. .