A delegation from the government, United Nations, and NGO partners observes efforts to combat COVID-19 transmission in Dhaka.
With funding provided by the World Bank Pandemic Emergency Funding Facility, USAID and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom (FCDO), the Government of Bangladesh, several United Nations agencies (FAO, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP and WHO), non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations are conducting an innovative initiative to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in communities across Bangladesh.
The programme – called the Community Support Team (CST) initiative – deploys teams of volunteers into low-income urban slum communities to help identify symptomatic COVID-19 cases and supports them and their families with home-based case management, hospital referral, telemedicine support, and screens for vulnerable individuals with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
CST teams are also assisting households with on-the-spot vaccination registration and vaccine card printing.
The teams consist of local volunteers and trained community health workers from a variety of NGO partners, including BRAC, CDP, Himu, and Platform. CST members also distribute locally made cloth masks, provide counseling and guide communities on preventing the spread of the virus by maintaining strict health and safety measures.
Wednesday, a high-level delegation of representatives from the government, donors, NGO partners and UN agencies conducted a field visit to observe the work of the Community Support Teams in Dhaka.
Senior Secretary of the Health Services Division Lokman Hossain Miah and the Additional Director General of DGHS Prof. Dr. Nasima Sultana also joined the field mission.
During the mission, the delegation observed three teams of volunteers conducting household visits, distributing masks, registering eligible household members for vaccination, and collecting COVID-19 samples in the Madartek neighborhood of Dhaka.
After the field visit, the participants held a roundtable discussion at the local Ward Councilor’s office. The delegation heard from residents of Madartek about their experience and the support provided by the CSTs.
Prior to observing the work of the CSTs, the delegation participated in a ceremony, where the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) officially handed over two portable X-ray systems to Mugda Medical College and Hospital.
The systems were among 30 portable X-ray systems that FAO and UNFPA distributed to 21 hospitals across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic with funding from the World Bank Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility.
The Senior Secretary praised the Government’s partners for their support in containing the pandemic in Bangladesh: “By allowing COVID-19 patients to receive care at home, the Community Support Team initiative has been instrumental in ensuring that hospitals do not get overburdened during the pandemic. I want to express my deepest gratitude to all our partners present here today for extending their generous support to us throughout this crisis.”
“When COVID-19 arrived in Bangladesh in March 2020, there were serious concerns over how the country’s health system would be able to cope with the overwhelming challenges posed by the pandemic. Throughout this visit today, I have been delighted to see how the support provided by the United Nations and our partners has enabled the Government to employ innovative methods of testing, tracing and treating patients, and thus keep the pandemic under control in Bangladesh,” the UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Mia Seppo concluded at the end of the mission.