As a part of the ongoing humanitarian effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in Cox’s Bazar, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, has opened an Oxygen Generator Plant, which is the first of its kind in Cox’s Bazar.
The new addition aims to strengthening the capacity of Isolation and Treatment Center (ITC) functionality at Ramu Upazila Health Complex, where moderate to severe patients with COVID-19 infection may require high flow oxygen support. Currently, there are five other Oxygen Plants installed in Ukhyia and Teknaf Upazilas at various Severe Acute Respiratory Infection ITCs operated by different partners.
Honourable Member of the Parliament of the Government of Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh from Cox’s Bazar-3 constituency, Shaimum Sarwar Kamal, addressing as chief guest, inaugurated the Oxygen Generator Plant at Ramu ITC on September 30, 2020 while Cox’s Bazar’s Additional Deputy Magistrate Md Shahajan Ali chaired the inauguration programme.
Thanking IOM for this health support initiative, the chief guest lawmaker Shaimum Sarwar Kamal said: “This Oxygen Generator Plant is a gift for the local people of Ramu in this COVID-19 situation. We expect IOM and other development agencies will continue their support for the host communities of Cox’s Bazar, alongside helping the Rohingya refugees.”
Echoing the lawmaker, Cox’s Bazar’s Additional Deputy Magistrate Md Shahajan Ali said: “With this response, the District Administration and IOM are continuing to combat COVID-19 collaboratively. The Oxygen Generator Plant is another addition of this collaborated response in pandemic situation.”
The oxygen generator installed in the Ramu Upazila Health Complex is a major component of the IOM oxygen project in Cox’s Bazar, contributing to the efforts of the larger response to assist local community members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Cox’s Bazar District.
The oxygen generator provides continuous piped oxygen flow for 50 beds in the ITC, enhancing the ITC’s capacity to manage moderate and severe COVID-19 cases. This project has involved the recruitment of technical experts for the installation of the facility, and training for technicians and engineers to ensure long term maintenance and operations.
Addressing as special guest, IOM Bangladesh’s Chief of Mission George Gigauri said: “In our collective struggle against the virus, it is not only right but essential that we collectively accelerate our efforts to assist local communities in Cox’s Bazar and this health facility is another testament to our steadfast commitment to deliver for the host population.”
Ramu Upazila Nirbahi Officer Pronoy Chakma, Cox’s Bazar’s Civil Surgeon Office Representative Dr. Md. Alamgir, Ramu Upazila Health and Family Planning Officer Dr Nobel Kumar Barua and Ramu Upazila Parishad Chairman Sohel Sarower Kajol provided comments along with other guests.
In addition to this oxygen plant, IOM is supporting the expansion and capacity enhancement of ITCs in Ramu and Chakoria through necessary renovation work, supply of medical furniture, critical medical equipment and consumables including personal protective equipment (PPE) oxygen concentrators, cylinders and sample collection tools.
Thus far, IOM has provided medical and office equipment but also 5,000 face-shields, 1,000 coveralls, 10,000 surgical masks, 1,000 N95 masks, 30 oxygen cylinders, 8 oxygen concentrators, 100 oxygen face-masks, 50 pulse oximeters. Two portable X-ray machines, 20 Nebulizer machines, 100 high-flow nasal canula and more PPEs will be supplied to the ITCs shortly.
One ambulance has been handed over to the Civil Surgeon, Cox’s Bazar to support in the referral of host communities to and from the ITCs in Ramu and Chakoria ITCs. To date, 243 patients (suspected and confirmed COVID-19) have been admitted into the Ramu ITC and 197 patients have been hospitalized at Chakaria ITC, while several thousand individuals have been screened for COVID-19 at these health facilities.
Apart from these, the UN Migration Agency has been supporting the Rohingya refugees and the Host communities in Cox’s Bazar since the beginning of this pandemic. IOM’s Migrant Health Division (MHD) has upgraded four existing primary health care facilities in Cox’s Bazar to do sentinel sample collection and temporarily isolate suspected patients and operating three ITCs in different camps with currently functional 115 beds and with a capacity to expand up to 230 beds in case of increase of caseloads.
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. 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. Together with partners, IOM aims to expand support and alleviate the burden faced by vulnerable populations to COVID-19 across the district.