IOM-Organized ITC Visits aim to Improve Rohingya Attitudes on COVID-19 Healthcare

As the humanitarian community scales up its COVID-19 health response in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh – repurposing existing health care centres and building new Severe Acute Respiratory Infection Isolation and Treatment Facilities (SARI ITCs) – increased efforts to dispel rumors and misinformation are crucial to ensure that available services are used by the local community.
“Before, we did not know what the Isolation and Treatment Centre looked like inside. Information was limited about why this center was set up,’ said Momtaz, a Rohingya woman in Teknaf. ‘Now we have a clear picture of what is inside the ITC and this is very helpful for us. I can share with my family, relatives, and neighbors about my experience.”
The facility, constructed by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), will open its doors next week, contributing 60 beds to the humanitarian community’s overall contribution in Cox’s Bazar. To relieve local apprehension and hesitation concerning COVID-19 health facilities in general, the International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) Site Management and Site Development (SMSD) team organized visits from the refugee community to IRC’s ITC earlier this week.
Maintaining physical distance and hygiene best practices, a total of 13 small groups (with a maximum 20 people per group) were selected from local religious leaders, community leaders, Extremely Vulnerable Individuals, women and girls, elderly, youth and learning centre teachers to learn more about the health response in-person.
The small groups visited each area of IRC’s ITC while IOM, IRC and World Health Organization (WHO) staff explained the facility’s purpose and answered questions. Visits were monitored by the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Camp-In-Charge Official Pulok Kanty Chakraborty, who expressed appreciation from the Government of Bangladesh for awareness raising activities in the camp.
“By visiting this ITC, we saw everything, and we realize that such facility is prepared and ready to receive patients which is good. From now we will share this information to our community people so that they will be informed about the services if they need, they can come,” said Omar, a local Rohingya religious leader.
IOM Cox’s Bazar’s Site Management Coordinator in Teknaf, Connie Tangara, added: “The visit was organized to allow the community to experience a tour of the ITC firsthand before it becomes operational. It is essential that community members are informed, understand procedure inside the isolation facility and feel able to provide feedback on changes needed to enhance accountability.”
Together with camp authorities and partners, IOM will continue the ITC awareness raising activities across Cox’s Bazar to foster local trust, increase the effectiveness of health activities and contribute to the overall COVID-19 response.